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Hicks on Biz: Radient Technologies part of thriving biotech sector By GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, January 19, 2018

Two weeks ago, this column set out on a quixotic research expedition: to find out how much manufacturing in Metro Edmonton happens outside the oil/gas/petrochemical energy sector and to talk to the CEOs of such companies, find out how they succeeded in a city that traditionally draws its wealth from public sector employment and the oil patch. For all the concern and tongue-wag about “diversification,” nobody really knows the actual numbers. Statistics Canada, the No. 1 provider of such information in this country, places oil and gas processing and product manufacturing for the oilpatch into the catch-all “manufacturing” basket. Because the information isn’t available, Edmonton Economic Development Corporation tackles diversification by assisting Edmonton companies of all stripes to expand their customer base beyond Alberta.  Trying to classify Edmonton’s manufacturing companies as being in or out of the oilpatch would be an expensive exercise without a tangibl ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Looking back at Edmonton cuisine in 2017 BY GRAHAM HICKS, first published Edmonton Sun, December 27, 2017

Oh the food memories of 2017 … The sweet plantain fries plus spicy shrimp/melted cheese arepas at Rolando Sandrea’s Avila Arepa Urban Venezuelan Kitchen … The lamb shoulder stew on noodles at the Bedouin Experience … Any of the ramen soups at Tokiwa … LOFT Thai Eatery’s Thai-Italian fusion confit duck leg with Thai curry. We lost the Alberta Hotel & Grill’s take on duck breast when that restaurant closed, but the same room has re-opened as the exciting Revel, with Chef Tony Krause’s octopus cassoulet. LUX stepped out of its steak house mentality by adding a deep-fried and battered whole-fish Pacific snapper to the menu. Takami Sushi’s deluxe sashimi floated in a soft bed of dry ice. Tang Bistro has finally offered Edmonton authentic regional Chinese cuisine. Real fish ‘n’ chips came from Jesse Morrison Gauthier’s Grandin Fish ‘n’ Chips. The best dessert ever tasted in Greater Edmonton was in St. Albert, being ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Revel Bistro is a winner BY GRAHAM HICKS First Published EDMONTON SUN: October 31, 2017

WEEKLY DISH FOR WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2017 – REVEL BISTRO & BAR Revel Bistro & Bar 9802 Jasper Avenue 587-524-3333 Reveledmonton.com Tuesday to Thursday, 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 4 p.m. to midnight Closed Sunday and Monday Dinner for two, excluding tip and beverages: basic, $55; loaded, $90 Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Excellence breeds excellence. Another young chef is to be welcomed into Edmonton’s fast-growing club of elite chefs – recognized across Canada when three of our top eateries – Clementine, Café Linnea and Alder Room – made Air Canada’s enRoute Magazine’s list of Top 10 New Canadian Restaurants. (To have three from one city, let alone a city a fraction the size of Vancouver, Montreal or Toronto, is unheard of.) His name is Tony Krause, chef and partner in the new Revel Bistro & Bar, on the ground floor of the replicated Alberta Hotel, directly acr ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: One last Rodeo for Edmonton's Northlands Coliseum BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST PUBLISHED EDMONTON SUN, Oct. 26, 2017

Well this is a real interesting kettle of horse dung, this dance between the Canadian Finals Rodeo, Professional Bull Riders, Northlands, the City of Edmonton and the Oilers Entertainment Group. All that really counts, however, is ensuring Edmonton remains the destination of choice for rural Western Canadians in early November, once the harvest is in, it’s time to party, do the Christmas shopping and maybe buy a brand-new pick-up truck. For 44 years, the Canadian Finals Rodeo (CFR) at the Northlands Coliseum along with Northlands’ Farmfair International did the trick. The “economic impact” (if you believe such specious metrics) is said to be $50 to $70 million. No matter the actual numbers, the second week of November has always been a bonanza for Edmonton hotels, truck dealerships, and country & western bars. Suddenly, the party has become transient. With the building of Rogers Place, the Coliseum became a white elephant. Without Coliseum revenue, Northlands is ef ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: It's not entirely the Trudeau government's fault that TransCanada decided to kill Energy East BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 17, 2017

Whoa! Lay off the emotional over-kill! Of course Justin Trudeau's Quebec-lovin'government had a hand in TransCanada Corporation's decision to cancel its battered Energy East pipeline plan, deliberately throwing too many hoops into the approval process. But TransCanada's decision, no matter what, is mostly about business. The oilsands have dramatically lowered future growth predictions, thanks to cancelled projects, thanks to low oil prices. And TransCanada's other huge pipeline project, the Keystone XL, is going ahead. The previous American president nixed it, the new president approved it. Between Keystone XL, Enbridge's Line 3 and Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, enough new pipeline is coming up to handle the oilsands'slower growth without Energy East. So who needs Energy East ... at least at this point? (Hold that thought ... AT THIS POINT.) To build new pipelines, pipeline companies go to oil producers and "pre-sell" oil transport space. U of A oil economist Andrew Leac ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Revisiting some of Edmonton's classic restaurants BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, OCTOBER 03, 2017

Isn’t it something when a restaurant remains competitive and vital after 30, 40 or more years of operation? At least 20 dining establishments in Greater Edmonton are 30 year or older and are still well-patronized. Months ago, the Weekly Dish reviewed a few classics – The Flamingo and Billy Budd’s among them. Suggestions then poured in from readers of other “classics” worthy of mention. At 75 years old, The Commodore (10712 Jasper Ave.) leads the longevity pack, although Teddy’s claims to be older. To walk in The Commodore is to step back in time, to plastic plants, brown vinyl counter stools and laminated tabletops. Third-generation owner David Gee describes it as a “proper greasy spoon.” No surprises in the Commodore’s $10.75 (cash only) eggs, sausage and endless-coffee breakfast. The fried potatoes were under-cooked. The coffee, while endless, was watery. Everything went well with ketchup. The High Level Diner (10912-88 Ave.), now 34 years old, ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Bottega 104 has about as much soul as Joey or Earl’s BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 26, 2017

Where’s the soul?   This is not to question the economics of the Crudo family’s latest hospitality venture, Bottega 104. The 60-seat restaurant on 104th Street is just a block south of Rogers Place. The new restaurant was jam-packed on Saturday evening before an Oilers pre-season game. The fancy cocktails, wine and beer were flowing. The pastas and pizzas streamed out from the busy kitchen. Ka-ching, ka-ching! You could hear the cash registers singing! But where was the soul? The two other major restaurants owned by Nick and Cristo Crudo and their dad Giuseppe, Café Amore and the Black Pearl Seafood, overflow with soul and old-world hospitality. Half the staff seem to be related, the smells, the conviviality, the big platters of fabulous fresh food, the checkered table cloths, the bantering, the fabulous soups .... When the Weekly Dish last reviewed Café Amore two years ago, it earned 4.5 of 5 Suns for food, 4 for ambience, 4.5 for service. The Black Pearl, rev ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Sorrentino's Mushroom Harvest Festival BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 12, 2017

Downtown – 10162-100 St. – 780 424 7500 South – 4208 Calgary Trail – 780 434 7607 West – 6867 170 St. – 780 444 0524 Little Italy – 10844 95 St. – 780 425 0960 Stony Plain – 108 Genesis Drive – 780-591-2121 Bistecca Italian Steakhouse – 2345 111 St. – 780 439 7335   Food: 4 of 5 stars Ambience: 4 of 5 stars Service: 3.5 of 5 stars   Festival dinner for two without tip or beverages, $60 basic, $90 loaded. September may mean back-to-school, frosty nights, shorter days and the (sigh) end of summer. But for so many Edmonton families, there’s still joy is Mudville thanks to the traditional, September-long Sorrentino’s Mushroom Harvest festival. A tradition? Of course! The special one-month-only mushroom menu at all six Sorrentino’s area restaurants plus Bistecca, has been around for 23 years. Many a dining group – be they relatives, friends or associates – never ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Patisseries just popping up BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, SEPTEMBER 05, 2017

It’s a truly remarkable, and most welcome, phenomenon. In the past 18 months, at least 10 new patisseries have sprung up in the city. The French, who lead the world in creating these delightful baker’s confectionaries, have two different words for bake shops. A patisserie is about pastries and cakes. A boulangerie is about bread. Edmonton has always had independent bread-based bakeries – Italian, Handy, Popular, Bon Ton, Artistic, Boulangerie Bonjour, Italian Centre, Hazeldean, Portuguese Canadian, Cobs and more. But this patisserie thing — small boutique bakeries with sit-down tables, making hand-crafted and individually-sized pastries and cakes — is something new. What’s surprising is the overall quality. In my patisserie rounds, every single shop was impressive. Not one failed in freshness, quality, price or ambience. This is due to several possible reasons. The reigning queen of Edmonton’s patisseries has set high the bar: Duchess Bake Shop, o ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Northlands empire has fallen BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 01, 2017

It is the way of the world. Seasons come and seasons go. Empires rise and fall. Northlands had a good run — 138 years. But now its empire, sitting on city-owned land, has all blown up. The aging Coliseum sits empty other than the occasional C-circuit concert and the Canadian Finals Rodeo this fall and in 2018. Horse racing will be gone by this time next year. The Edmonton Expo Centre, a questionable expenditure 33 years ago, was originally financed with a $75 million city-guaranteed loan. Northlands still owes $47 million and is unable to pay the mortgage, so the Expo Centre is being taken over by the city. A visioning experiment caused much interest last year — but none of the alternative roles envisioned for Northlands has panned out, especially with tight government purse strings in this oil-depressed economy. Today, Northlands is de facto bankrupt. The city is turning the Expo Centre over to the Edmonton Economic Development Corporation, which has long run the Shaw Conf ... Read the rest of entry »
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