HicksBiz Blog

Hicks weekly dish: Chowin’ down at the Taste of Edmonton BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 25, 2017

For once, the Weekly Dish has quasi-scientifically reviewed the food offerings at Taste of Edmonton, the city’s premier food festival in Churchill Square running this year to July 29. The challenge is to be dispassionate in choice – NOT to automatically return to favourite booths with favourite mini-dishes, not to be swayed by popularity or reputation. There are 47 food booths, plus 14 food trucks rotating in and out, plus special events, plus, plus, plus. Every time you turn around, a friend or a vendor urges you to try this, try that. So here’s the newly developed Weekly Dish Fool-Proof Taste of Edmonton review system: Every booth is numbered, one to 47. Pick a number at random from one to five. From that number, visit every fifth booth – no matter the food or the vendor. Our random starting point was booth #3 – the Afghan Chopan Kebab. Then it was every fifth booth after that. Over all – GOOD FOOD!!!! Very little was overly greasy. Much was imaginati ... Read the rest of entry »

Cirque de Soleil - Kurios, Cabinet of Curiosities - As good as entertainment can possibly get - REVIEW BY GRAHAM HICKS, HICKSBIZ.COM

Kurios – Cabinet of Curiosities Cirque de Soleil Under the Grand Chapiteau (Big Top) Behind (north of) the Northlands Coliseum July 20 to August 13, 2017 REVIEW BY GRAHAM HICKS, Hicksbiz.com Tickets:  https://www.cirquedusoleil.com/canada/edmonton/kurios/buy-tickets How magical, how lucky we all are, that the world has Cirque de Soleil.  And that Cirque de Soleil brings its shows to Edmonton. Cirque is astounding. It is popular entertainment at its artistic best. Over 20 shows are now in production around the world, attracting thousands of spectators every day. Cirque de Soleil never stoops to crass commercialism. Within its circus ways, it is an extravaganza of artistic imagination that knows no bounds. The creators of Cirque shows must feel like Christmas comes to them every day of the year.  No other performing arts company can give artistic overseers the resources to bring to life every possible performing idea they can think of. Extraordinary creativity: In Kur ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Local bakery grows into gluten-free juggernaut BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JULY 21, 2017

How did a tiny Old Strathcona bakery become North America’s second-biggest producer of gluten-free baked goods? Ten semi-trailers a week roll out of Kinnikinnick Foods’ mega-bakery just off the Yellowhead Trail, bound for 65 distribution warehouses and 15,000 grocery stores.  Simultaneously, Kinnikinnick loads its gluten-free bread, cookies, donuts, buns and bagels onto giant pallets heading to Europe on KLM’s non-stop flight to Amsterdam. A distributor whisks the pallets to Kinnikinnick’s British distribution centre.  An Internet-sales office handles online orders, ensuring quick delivery the world over. How did Kinnikinnick overcome distance-to-market and labour costs?  How did the company succeed in a world of highly competitive corporate food giants?  It currently has 160 employees and grosses over $25 million a year in sales.   Why does it make all its products in Edmonton? Why hasn’t the Bigam family cashed out and sold Kinnikinnic ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: District Cafe food is excellent, but the service needs work BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 18, 2017

District Cafe & Bakery 10011 109 St. (corner of 109 Street and 100 Avenue) 780-705-7788 Districtcafe.ca Monday to Thursday, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. Sunday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $30; loaded, $60 Food:  4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns The District Café and Bakery does just about everything right: Its well-designed interior is bright, blond and clean. The high ceilings and all-window exterior walls make you breathe big. The spacious patio well-utilizes the outside space at 109 Street and 100 Avenue. The menu is beautifully designed to turn with the time of day. It’s very much in tune with the District Cafe’s bakery roots, yet branches out, especially at dinner, to healthy, tasty and inexpensive vittles. But on this particular weekday evening, there is a service problem. More perplexing, the casual, t-shirts + shorts serving staff is unaware ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Putting the AI (artificial intelligence) in Edmonton BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: FRIDAY, JULY 14, 2017

An equipment dealer friend was invited to tour a top-secret R&D (research and development) division of a major supplier and manufacturer. He was shown prototypes of models being planned for 10, 20 years out. He was blown away by the money and effort being expended on the company’s long game. At the University of Alberta, three brilliant AI (artificial intelligence) computer minds — professors Rich Sutton, Michael Bowling and Patrick Pilarski — have, in fact, authored much of the fundamental global research on what’s called reinforcement learning within the AI sphere. So much so that the University of Alberta is considered the second or third centre of excellence in the world for “machine learning” or self-learning computer/robots. Hometown and local economy boosters are famous for flights of fantasy accompanying every new technology-based development in town. But this one is likely for real. DeepMind, Google’s artificial intelligence research comp ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Ono and Splash poke shops BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 11, 2017

Quite independently, two poke (pronounced poh-kay) shops have opened in Edmonton at the same time and within five blocks of each other. Poke is about diced raw, marinated tuna and salmon. Sushi and sashimi are about sliced raw, marinated tuna and salmon. Sushi/sashimi originated in Japan. Poke — diced tuna/salmon, sauces and veggies mixed into a rice or noodle base — originated in Hawaii from a blending of Asian food cultures, including Japan. Poke is trendy and catching on like wild fire across North America. From a restaurateur’s point of view, it’s easy to serve. Both Splash and Ono have walk-up counters to place and pay for orders. It’s easy — the counter clerk can prepare your order in no-time-flat from strategically arranged ingredients. There’s next to no cooking — other than the rice or noodles, everything is served cold. Poke is easy to eat. Like Freshii or Chopped Leaf or the Greenhouse, a single bowl of mixed foods is filling, refreshing and ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ Alberta's oil and gas industry faced with contradiction BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JULY 07, 2017

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s on first? What’s on second? Are you not perplexed when thinking about Alberta’s oil and gas industry? How many contradictions can we come up with?  How many differing “expert” opinions can be expressed about environmental impact, world oil demand, and the future of gasoline/diesel-fueled transport? WORLD DEMAND FOR OIL The media is flooded with stories about the impending electrification of automobile engines. Volvo made headlines by announcing every vehicle it makes after 2019 will be either hybrid gas/electric powered or all-electric. Tesla’s every move is a front-page story. At the same time, world demand for oil has gone from 80 million barrels a day in 2010 to an expected 100 million barrels a day in 2018. Who’s on first? The overall world outlook for oil suggests a moderating of the year-over-year growth in demand for oil/natural gas, but certainly not a serious slowdown or decline in demand. ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ Alberta's oil and gas industry faced with contradiction BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JULY 07, 2017

Who’s right? Who’s wrong? Who’s on first? What’s on second? Are you not perplexed when thinking about Alberta’s oil and gas industry? How many contradictions can we come up with?  How many differing “expert” opinions can be expressed about environmental impact, world oil demand, and the future of gasoline/diesel-fueled transport? WORLD DEMAND FOR OIL The media is flooded with stories about the impending electrification of automobile engines. Volvo made headlines by announcing every vehicle it makes after 2019 will be either hybrid gas/electric powered or all-electric. Tesla’s every move is a front-page story. At the same time, world demand for oil has gone from 80 million barrels a day in 2010 to an expected 100 million barrels a day in 2018. Who’s on first? The overall world outlook for oil suggests a moderating of the year-over-year growth in demand for oil/natural gas, but certainly not a serious slowdown or decline in demand. ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: Packrat Louie most pleasant indeed BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JULY 04, 2017

It’s like catching up with a long-time friend who, in the interim, has slimmed down considerably, is looking great and exudes new enthusiasm and a positive mind-set. In short, visiting Old Strathcona’s signature dining-out restaurant Packrat Louie after its recent renovation — both in decor and menu — is most pleasant indeed. The open and airy eatery has been a South Side fixture since chef extraordinaire Peter Johner (now semi-retired but still making chocolates in the Okanagan) opened Packrat Louie in 1993. It’s been home to several of the city’s better chefs since Johner sold Packrat Louie in 2006, including Jan Trittenbach (Solstice Seasonal Cuisine) and Brad Lazarenko (Culina group). The timing of the extensive renovation and re-invention was just right. Packrat was getting a little tired, its menu a bit stale. It took courage for managing partner Jodh Singh to recognize the need for short-term pain for long-term gain. The restaurant was shut down for several ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Spend your marketing money on made-in-Edmonton BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, JUNE 29, 2017

We get it – sort of. The City of Edmonton/Edmonton Economic Development/Edmonton Tourism/Alberta Tourism spend millions of dollars on “marketing” our fair city – striving to create an impression out in the world that Edmonton is a most enjoyable place to visit and live. Those very-well-done, fast-paced, colourful, Edmonton-is-fun TV ads that ran during Oiler telecasts during the 2016/17 season represent “brand” marketing for Edmonton. The ads reached a big, targeted audience outside Edmonton and presented a pleasing impression of the city. We didn’t mind watching them over and over again. They were quite justifiable in terms of a return on the dollars spent. Our tourism/marketing folks are big on “brand awareness.” Millions of dollars are being spent to attract and subsidize targeted extreme sporting events to the city — the Red Bull Crashed Ice event, the Extreme World Series, the Tour of Alberta bike race. These events, our tourism expe ... Read the rest of entry »