HicksBiz Blog

Hicks Weekly Dish: Cooking classes from top chefs BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 15, 2016

Besides their cooking, all the Christmas in November celebrity chefs at Jasper Park Lodge this past weekend shared one undeniable talent. All were all expert communicators – using humour, home-spun stories, bantering with the guests to create the most entertaining of cooking demonstrations. Up in Jasper, Christmas in November is an enormously successful Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge tradition. The three-day program in North America’s most beautiful wilderness lodge includes all food and wine, gala dinners, accommodation, gifts and, at the heart of the matter, a choice of seven cooking classes with the 14 guest chefs. After 28 years, Christmas in November’s popularity is such that it has grown into three packages of three days each – the opening weekend, mid-week and the closing weekend. Each session sees 400 to 500 registered participants filling Jasper Park Lodge and kicking off its Christmas festivities during a traditionally slow time of year in the mountains. Thanks to ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Trump could be good for Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 10, 2016

Please, no more hysterics. The sky is not falling. American President-elect Donald Trump could be very good for Alberta. Did we happen to mention the Keystone XL pipeline? Alberta’s biggest challenge is not climate change and greenhouse gas emissions, but the need for new pipelines to get our stranded oil and natural gas to market. Outgoing American President Barack Obama vetoed the Keystone XL pipeline – carrying up to 1 million barrels of dilbit (diluted bitumen) a day from the oilsands to under-utilized upgraders/heavy-oil refineries along the Gulf of Mexico. Trump has promised to reverse that decision as soon as possible. Trump believes fossil fuels will continue to play a major role in providing cheap energy to America and the world. Trump will take a very different environmental stance than Obama, with an underlying assumption that environmental concerns can be met without excessive government interference and subsidy. Trump will embrace the “greening” of ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Syphay needs to review their service BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED Edmonton Sun: TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 08, 2016

Syphay – Thai and Lao Cuisine 6010 104 St. 780-438-8338 syphay.com Mon. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.; 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sat. 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sun. – closed Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 2.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two (excluding beverages and tip): Basic $30; Loaded, $60 My previous experience with Laotian food was unfortunate.   I’d ordered a minced meat salad. It looked innocent enough. But a zealot in the kitchen had poured a few dozen teaspoons of chili powder into the mix. My mouth – and I do enjoy extremely spicy Thai and Indian cuisine – was on fire for hours. One bad experience should not a life-long bias form! It was time to explore this national cuisine once again. Laotian food has its fans. Several of the city’s top Thai restaurants – Syphay, Viphalay, and Boualouang - are advertised as “Thai and Lao cuisine.”. Laos itself is mysterious and appealing. The small, mountainous land-locked coun ... Read the rest of entry »

The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge: You'd never know it, but the grand old lady of the Rockies has been completely refurbished and restored

I love subtle change. Not the big, bold, brash look-at-me, look-how-trendy-I-am, change only for the sake of change. The Fairmont Jasper Park Lodge (JPL as it's known to the locals), located just outside the Jasper townsite in Canada's Jasper National Park, is among the most classic and iconic hotel architecture in North America.  The main lodge dates back to 1923, then was rebuilt after a major fire in 1953. Around it, on a huge manicured 700-acre wilderness campus, are guest cabins of all sizes and shapes - 446 units in all. But absolutely central to JPL's wilderness beauty is the keeping of all its cabins to the same classic visual exterior and interior themes - verandahs, browns and greens, cottage-like.  To photograph any cabin in isolation is to know immediately that it is a Jasper Park Lodge cabin.  Over the last five to seven years, 90% of Jasper Park Lodge has been updated, renovated and refurbished.  But it hasn't been made a big deal.  While attending the annual &n ... Read the rest of entry »

Christmas in November at Jasper Park Lodge: Introduction of the Man Cabin

The famous  three-day Christmas in November celebrations  at the Fairmont Jasper Place Lodge, the same package repeated three times (Nov. 4-7, Nov. 7-10 and Nov. 10-13) this year, is a hoot-and-a-half of getaway fun – with 400 to 500 people per time slot out to thoroughly enjoy themselves with receptions, galas, dances, food and craft demonstrations and wine, wine, wine. But, face it, for 27 years Christmas in November has been primarily designed and attended by women. It works mostly as a three-day getaway for small groups of female friends, and family combinations.For whatever reasons, food and decoration themed events don’t hold that much interest to men. Except … times are changing.  More men enjoy being hobby chefs, even outside of the summer BBQ months. More men are beginning to come to the Jasper Park Lodge’s Christmas in November with their wives or significant others. The organizers this year came up with a bold new concept – why not a “Man Cabi ... Read the rest of entry »

Wine-tasting: Wines from Brazil's Vinicola Salton winery by GRAHAM HICKS

Wine-tasting:  Wines from Brazil's Vinicola Salton winery By Graham Hicks Edmonton, Alberta, Canada First posted Nov. 7, 2016 hicksbiz.com graham.hicks@hicksbiz.com @hicksbiz Edmonton wine stores have shelves upon shelves of Canadian, American, Italian, New Zealand, Australian and French wines.  There’s fewer Chilean, South African, German and Spanish wines, but still some choice. But when it comes to Brazilian wines, you’ll be lucky to find a few brands on a back shelf. Which is why Mauricio Salton and Cesar Baldasso, of Brazil’s Vinicola Salton winery, found themselves 11,000 kilometres away from home, tucking into tapas at the  Bodega Highlands tapas bar and kitchen on a cool November evening. Producing 1.25 million cases of wine annually, Salton is one of the biggest wineries in Brazil and definitely the oldest, started by Mauricio’s great grandfather and his great grandfather’s brothers in 1910. Brazil likes its home-grown wines, especially sparkl ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Edmonton hotelier not spooked by economy BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 04, 2016

How interesting that it took a 69-year-old independent businessman to build the first new major hotel in downtown Edmonton in 25 years, the 255-room (including 32 suites), 12-storey Hyatt Place at 9576 Jasper Avenue.   How interesting that Prem Singhmar was willing to break new ground, to be the first developer to make a major ($55 million) investment in The Quarters, the City of Edmonton’s vision for the Downtown East. Hyatt Place is one block east of the Shaw Conference Centre. And the new hotel has opened in the middle of a province-wide severe economic downturn. Prem professes to no particular financial acumen, but his track record is one of successful real estate and land development, one project after another. Starting with a chicken farm near Redwater on his arrival from India, via Libya, in 1985, Prem’s UAM Enterprises now consists of hotels, commercial and residential buildings and construction throughout Metropolitan Edmonton, plus agricultural holdings. “I am n ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: McDonald's and Chutneys Indian Grill: A tale of evolving fast food tastes BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 03, 2016

McDonald’s, the biggest fast-food chain in the world, is re-inventing itself to stay current. Chutneys Indian Grill is a kid full of dreams, a new fast-food franchise concept originating in Edmonton, with one prototype outlet in the fast-growing suburbs east of Mill Woods. Joe Sangha and his partners in Chutneys are betting the world is ready for a healthy version of Indian fast food, delivered in the pick ‘n’ choose style of a Subway or Chipotle. In a new building in a new shopping common south of Whitemud Drive on 17 Street, the Chutneys’ serving process is familiar, the food less so. As in a Subway, you start at one end and work your way down the serving counter, pointing at that what you want to add to your meal. First up is the base – a freshly-pressed and cooked “burroti” (see below), or brown rice, or salad greens. Then a protein, a sauce (gently westernized versions of butter sauce, tikka masala, vindaloo or daal), multiple toppings (cucumber, onions, toma ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Alberta agriculture takes a dive BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: SATURDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2016

As Farmfair International and the Canadian Finals Rodeo approach, Alberta’s agricultural sector, I am sad to report, is in about as good shape as the province’s oil and gas industry. The price of Alberta beef on-the-hoof has crashed hard, from a record peak 16 months ago of almost $200 per 100 lbs. to $135 per 100 lbs. today. Hogs have been much cheaper for a long time. Pork producers have found their profits even further eroded since June. The price per 100 lbs. has dropped from $90 to $75. (The consumer mystery remains: If beef wholesale prices have dropped like a rock, why is premium beef still selling at the grocery stores for $30 a kilogram? Then again, the usual highlow cycles of livestock production appear out of whack.) By late summer, grain growers were dancing a jig. Despite later-than-usual planting, crops were growing to beat the band, thanks to plentiful rain. But October’s snow in Central and Northern Alberta hit just as the late harvest had begun. Twothirds of the cro ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: From autobody shop to Café Linnea BY GRAHAM HICKS, FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN : TUESDAY, OCTOBER 25, 2016

Café Linnea Holland Plaza, 10934 119 St. 780-758-1160 cafelinnea.ca Mon. Thurs. Fri. Sat. - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., high tea 3 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Closed Tues. and Wed. No reservations other than Sunday tea sittings Lunch for two (without tip or beverages): Basic, $25; fully loaded, $45 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns   Located in a former autobody shop, gutted and completely reconstructed, the new Café Linnea is presenting the dining experience at its highest possible level. “Look at the quality of the glassware,” marvelled a friend more adept than I at analyzing beauty, “the quality of the natural light here, its interaction with the interior lighting, the really healthy plants, the air quality, the acoustics … and everything is impeccably clean. I am so impressed with this place … this is my seventh visit!” No detail has been overlooked at Café Linnea – Its design, a cat ... Read the rest of entry »