HicksBiz Blog

Category: Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Weekly Dish columns from The Edmonton Sun

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Food memories of 2015 BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, DECEMBER 22, 2015

If a downside exists in the restaurant reviewing business, it’s the lack of time and budget to return to enjoyable dining spots, to eat for the sheer joy of eating rather than with pen in hand and camera at the ready. So these memorable Meals of 2015 are, of necessity, mostly based on one-time visits to an astounding variety of restaurants in our city. I can say — as far as I am aware — that I eat what you eat. As a reviewer, I seek anonymity. Reservations are made under other names, I pay what you pay. The only exception is attending showcase dinners to which all members of the city’s food-reviewing community are invited. I also keep my distance from restaurant chefs, owners and charming maître d’s. Nothing destroys objectivity as quickly as friendship. From their blogs, it’s so easy to tell the food writers on the free-dinner circuit, or those in tight with certain chefs. They like everything, criticize nothing. Memories of 2015 … The Hot Dog R ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: You wanna open a restaurant BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2015

So you want to open a restaurant. You, and a thousand other dudes, all sitting around half-hammered on a Friday night, waving your beers and being enthralled by the BEST FOOD CONCEPT EVER! Ryan Heit, Craig Milne, Jeff Morton, Arden Tse and Terry Wong, however, went and did it. Their very hip Prairie Noodle Shop opened for business this past week … after 2½ years of preparation. Here’s their story. Phase I, The Concept: In mid-2013, nine friends who were connected through the University of Alberta’s MBA (Master of Business Administration) program began meeting regularly, just to think about business ideas. “We all wanted to start something,” says partner Ryan Heit, “but what?” Arden Tse and Terry Wong, both experienced restaurant managers, brought the idea of a Japanese-style ramen noodle shop to the group. “We held a ramen tasting party,” says Ryan. “We all liked the idea, but it was a $450,000 investment. And, being MBA stu ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: A Taverna fills a gaping hole left in Edmonton’s ethnic dining scene BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 24, 2015

A Taverna 12118-90 St. NW 780-471-1717 Tues. to Thurs – 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Fri. and Sat. – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sun. – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $40; loaded, $90 A gaping hole was left in Edmonton’s ethnic dining scene a few years back, when Jack and Maria Nobre closed Spago Portuguese Restaurant (after some 20 years) to retire to  Portugal. This is not to slight Sabor downtown, one of the city’s most elegant restaurants. But Sabor’s Portuguese dishes are very contemporary. For years there’s been no “traditional” Portuguese restaurant of note. A Taverna fills the gap. In the traditional ethnic restaurant territory on or near 118 Avenue east of 97 Street, chef Elza Silva stays faithful to her mother’s Portuguese recipes while her husband Fernando Silvado handles the front end of the restaurant ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks`Weekly Dish: Fresh Fit Foods challenge a success BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2015

For three weeks, with Garner Andrews (Sonic FM), J’Lyn Nye (CHED), Gillian Foote (The Bear), Chris Sheetz (CISN), Matt DeBeurs (CISN), Matt Chalut (The Bounce), Liann Cameron (The Bounce), Ashley Sexsmith (Kula Klips), publicist Donna Zazulak, Wendy Mueller, Deb Jakubec (Canadian Diabetes Association) nd Chris Reeve (Edmonton Child Magazine), I have stayed within a carefully designed, 1,800 calories-a-day nutrition program with all the food (three meals and two snacks a day) coming from the Fresh Fit Foods’ kitchen. As part of the Media Challenge, thanks to Fresh Fit’s sister company World Health, we have all had three sessions per week with a personal trainer. I’ve been exercising an hour a day, six days a week, be it in the gym (resistance), running or biking (cardio) or yoga (stretching). It’s safe to say the results and the attitude adjustments have been an eye-opener. Those endless messages about eating a big breakfast, avoiding sugar and deep-fried food, eating lea ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Fresh Fit Foods Challenge, Week 2 BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 27, 2015

Nobody said the Fresh Fit Foods’ intensive three-week nutrition and exercise “re-set” would be easy. The first four days of the 21 Day Media Challenge, in which I am a participant, were euphoric. Last Thursday, my body hummed with health, as if cleansed by the re-portioned, pre-cooked Fresh Fit individual meals that feature proteins, nutrient-dense carbohydrates and fresh veggies. I wasn’t feeling hungry at all. World Health personal trainer Jessi Zelinsky is pushing me in exercise sessions and my body loves it. Exercise is highly recommended as part of the 21 Day Challenge. Fresh Fit Foods is a sister company to the World Health gym group. But then, just as Fresh Fit Foods’ nutritionist Laura Swan had warned me, over the weekend a few hours of hunger set in. This is natural, she said. With an accelerated six-day-a-week program of running, resistance training and yoga, my calorie burn-rate has been greater than the carefully constructed 1,800 calories per day I am ... Read the rest of entry »

Graham Hicks jumps into Fresh Fit Foods' 21 Day Challenge BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 21, 2015

To review restaurants on a weekly basis is, yes, a dream assignment. Any whining -having to eat out, tiring of rich foods -would be silly in the extreme. But my weight has sneaking up -from 155 pounds a few years back, to 160, to 165, and, as of Monday, 169 pounds. At 5 foot, 5 inches, I'm porky. My clothes still fit, but the gut is hanging over the belt. So when Fresh Fit Foods invited local media personalities to participate in its 21 Day Challenge, I jumped at the chance. BOLD BUSINESS Fresh Fit Foods is a bold business venture by World Health Club owner David Hardy and partners, a bet that Edmontonians want to be pro-active about their health, that in this deep-fryer world of cream, cheese, fats and sugars here, there and everywhere, we need not look and feel like blimps. From a commercial kitchen beside the Glenora World Health club, Fresh Fit Foods produces individual meals and snacks that can be purchased on-line and picked up at any of the 10 World Health clubs in Metro Edmonton. The ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Tofu House offers excellent Korean cuisine BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 13, 2015

Tofu House Korean Restaurant 5020-97 St. 780-989-0804 Facebook, no website Seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Sunday 11:30 a.m. opening) Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 2.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $25; loaded, $40 I guess they don’t need to advertise, when two-thirds of the large Tofu House was taken up by a funeral party and the balance of the Korean restaurant was respectably full for Saturday lunch. But how sad. This very good, authentic Korean restaurant is unknown outside its Asiatic, mostly Chinese clientele. On the south side, Tofu House is at 51 Avenue and 97 Street in a former Swiss Chalet. The interior isn’t going to win design awards. The Swiss Chalet naugahyde remains unchanged. Nobody pays much attention to customer service. Inadequate English was an issue with several servers. But the Korean food is excellent, the best I’ve had in Edmonton. Don’t be put off by the name. This is n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Memphis Blues Barbeque House offers great value BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 06, 2015

Memphis Blues Barbeque House 5317 23 Ave. NW 780-428-6328 (also locations in Sherwood Park and Castledowns) Seven days a week, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Sundays, noon to 9 p.m.) Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $25; loaded, $50 The Memphis Blues Barbeque House all-meat platter is a delight for the eyes … and for the wallet. Five hungry adults looked in awe at the Memphis Feast platter as it made its triumphant arrival to our table in the small chain’s Mill Woods outlet. Clock-wise around the platter, all nice ‘n’ hot ‘n’ looking so tasty, were BIG portions of various meats – a fine slab of ribs, beef brisket, smoked sausage, rib ends, pulled pork, BBQ chicken, French fries, three pieces of corn bread and, in the centre in four bowls, BBQ pit beans, coleslaw, potato salad and the in-house BBQ dipping sauce. How much food? We were a party of five hungry adults ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Now THAT'S a hot dog! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29, 2015

The Dog 9567A 118 Ave. 780-424-6823 Tues. to Sun. 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Closed Mondays Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $20; loaded, $35 The lowly hot dog ascends, from a kids’ birthday party staple, to Fat Franks hot dog stands, to the crazy Asian fusion dogs at the It’ Dog. And now the hot dog arrives to its full magnificent glory.  The Dog is a sit-down  hot-dog emporium on 118 Avenue where you can order 23 kinds of hot dogs – at least 14 variations based on excellent locally made beef and beef/pork dogs, then hot dogs built from  kangaroo, elk, wild boar and alligator sausage, and even three vegetarian dogs!  The Dog shares its building and ownership with the best BBQ house in town, Sloppy Hoggs Roed Hus, which means it shares the quirky creativeness of over-all owner Bjorn Cochran. Cochran has had a lot of laughs creating The Dog. You’d associate the ... Read the rest of entry »

WEEKLY DISH Edmonton's Cafe Amore - As good as ever! BY GRAHAM HICKS, EDMONTON SUN FIRST POSTED: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2015

Cafe Amore 10807 106 Ave. 780-477-7896 www.cafeamorebistro.com Mon.- Fri: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. (Friday to 11 p.m.) Sat. 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Closed Sundays Food: 4.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two excluding drinks and tip: Basic, $30; loaded, $60 You’d think it’d be easy to run a good restaurant. Cook good food, have pleasant servers, charge reasonable prices. Surely the world will beat a path to your door. Of course it’s not easy at all. In fact, it’s one of the most difficult businesses imaginable – to have consistently excellent food  and service no matter how busy or how empty the restaurant, no matter if the cook just walked out the door in a hissy fit, no matter if hung-over servers don’t  show up. Café Amore is one of the very few restaurants in this town able to do just that – always have great food, always have pleasant, professional servers, always give excellent value ... Read the rest of entry »