HicksBiz Blog

Hicks Weekly Dish: Underwhelmed by Biera By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 10, 2020

Biera's Korean style ribs were not exceptional. GRAHAM HICKS/Edmonton SunEdmonton Biera 9570 76 Ave. NW 587-525-8589 biera.ca  (reservations) Wed. to Sat. 11:30 am to 11 pm Sun. 11:30 am to 4 pm Mon. closed Tues. 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Food: 3 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding beverages and tip:  Basic $60, loaded $90 Was it the particular evening? An off night? Was Biera executive chef Christine Sandford absent? Did we simply order the wrong dishes? How was it possible for our party of four to be so underwhelmed at Biera? This, after all, is a restaurant consistently listed on reputable Top 5 dining out lists (reputable meaning not open to voter manipulation, not being “bought”). STORY CONTINUES BELOW In Avenue Magazine’s just-published Best Restaurants 2020 edition, an independent judging panel named Biera as Edmonton’s Best Overall Restaurant. For years, Chef Sandford has been devising ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Oilers playoff anticipation brings March madness to Edmonton By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 9, 2020

Edmonton Oilers' Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (93) celebrates a goal on Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck (37) at Rogers Place on Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020.Ian Kucerak / Postmedia It’s March, there’s still 13 games left in the regular season.  The Oilers aren’t guaranteed a playoff spot yet. But the city is already going playoff crazy. At last week’s Oiler away games, the bars, lounges  and sports pubs were full, even though it was mid-week, even though it’s the quietest time of the year for the hospitality business. Sales are piling up for Oiler jerseys, car flags, foam fingers, ball caps. The excitement grows. Because it’s apparent to hockey-savvy Edmontonians that the Oilers are fast becoming one of the league’s better teams – with two leading scorers, two dangerous forward lines, depth up front, a fast-maturing defensive corps and two goalies shooting out the lights. STORY CONTINUES BELOW The anticipation ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: No fighting over this food By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun, March 3, 2020

A Filipino Kamayan/boodle fight feast is a treat for the eyes and the stomach. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Kamayan/Boodle Fight Festival Filistix Restaurant (special occasion) 10621 100 Ave. 780-716-4708 11 am – 2 pm, 4 pm to 9 pm (seven days a week, closed Sunday evenings) filistix.ca Kamayan Feast food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Festival dinner: $57 per ticket When is a fight not a fight? When it’s a boodle fight feast. This rural Filipino tradition has been around for a very long time. Whenever an occasion so warranted, large, flat banana leaves would cover the tables, serving as a combination serving platters/tablecloths. STORY CONTINUES BELOW For what was originally known as a Kamayan feast, food (other than soup) would be dished on to the table centre.  Guests on either side helped themselves, using their hands and rice as utensils. The tradition evolved into a handy way of feeding the troops, somehow tak ... Read the rest of entry »

HICKS ON BIZ: Lots more oil still to come By Graham Hicks, first published Edmonton Sun, February 28, 2020

The Aspen Oil Sands Project, Imperial Oil’s $2.6 billion, new in-situ oilsands project will eventually produce 150,000 barrels of oil per day (bpd). It is under construction. Foster Creek Oil Sands Expansion Project — Cenovus — $2 billion, adding 40,000 bpd — under construction. Lewis/Meadow Creek East/Meadow Creek West SAGD Oil Sands Projects — Suncor — $2 billion, around 200,000 bpd from different projects — proposed. Narrows Lake In Situ Oil Sands Project — Cenovus — $1.6 billion — 130,000 bpd — proposed, currently deferred. What is our problem here? Why the tears and teeth-gnashing over the indefinite postponement of the TECK Frontier open-pit bitumen mining proposal in the oilsands, when environmentally acceptable in-situ oilsands projects are lined up around the block? STORY CONTINUES BELOW A quick oilsands refresher: There are two ways of extracting heavy oil (bitumen) from the oilsands, open-pit mining a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Japanese Dining – one good, one bad By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 25, 2020

Veggies, shishito peppers, and braised ribs on the Gyu-kaku Edmonton table grill. Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ 10404 Jasper Ave. 587-416-0957 gyu-kaku.com 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Fri. and Sat. to 11:30 p.m., Sun. to 10 p.m.) Reservations, Open Table Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $30; loaded $50 STORY CONTINUES BELOW Kobachi Japanese Cuisine #125, 200 Festival Lane, Sherwood Park 780-570-5858 kobachi.ca Dinner, Wed. to Sat. 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. (Sun. to 8:30 p.m.) Lunch, Wed. to Fri. 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Closed Monday Reservations by phone Food: 2.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two, excluding gratuities and beverages: Basic, $50; loaded $75 Two Japanese dining experiences, with paradoxical outcomes. One was a long-awaited treat that was disappointing at best. The other restaurant was entered with low ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Fact is it's a Goldilocks economy By Graham Hicks first published Edmonton Sun February 22, 2020

Crews walk past the polypropylene reactor and the giant crane being used to raise it into position at the Heartland Petrochemical Complex in Fort Saskatchewan on Thursday, March 7, 2019.David Bloom / Postmedia, file Do we laugh or cry over the state of Alberta’s economy? We are so swayed by the latest headlines, especially the enormous conflict between Western Canadian oil and natural gas versus the youthful/progressive/protest cry for a no-carbon-fuels world. Our bitumen, and now B.C.’s natural gas, has become symbolic of a global fight to the death between unspoiled nature and evil global capitalism. The captains of Alberta’s No. 1 industry are the baddest dudes of all. On the one hand, despair. The global energy companies, huge pension funds, and our fellow Canadians want nothing to do with our No. 1 industry, if only because they will be blocked by climate warriors and our federal government at every turn. On the other … The Alberta government has an excelle ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks' Weekly Dish: Pe mitso! Let's eat! By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 19, 2020

By GRAHAM HICKS It was the simplest of ideas, taking much work. Mackenzie Brown — a young Cree artist/musician/activist who describes herself as having a “moccasin in both worlds,” was chatting with food entrepreneur Brad Lazarenko in his Culina To Go within the lovely, fully re-invented Oliver Exchange retail/hospitality centre. Why not, she suggested, an evening of First Nations food, culture and stories here in Edmonton, introducing the wider community to a rich culture that has always been here, but usually presented within a political context rather than pure cultural enjoyment. Lazarenko, being Metis himself, thought this a splendid idea. Planning for Pe Mitso — Cree for “let’s eat” — began in earnest.  Two other indigenous chefs happily joined in, the renowned Shane Chartrand of the River Cree Resort’s SC Restaurant, and a newcomer to the Edmonton culinary scene, Scott Iserhoff of Pei Pei Chei Ow Catering. He ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Saving Edmonton, saving Alberta By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 14, 2020

Skyline taken from the airport control tower at the Blatchford Redevelopment in Edmonton, December 4, 2017.Ed Kaiser Ed Kaiser / Ed Kaiser/Postmedia Two interesting reports will be coming forward in the next few weeks, one to Edmonton City Council, one to the Government of Alberta. Whoa, don’t let your eyes glaze over! Don’t give up on Hicks on Biz! Reports, however dry and horrible and impossible to read, can profoundly influence the economic well-being of our city and province. And never before has Edmonton/Alberta faced such crossroads as today. If there’s not ingenuity and leadership and innovation, we are going to see a continuing decline in our real estate prices. Our children and grandchildren will reluctantly leave Alberta for career opportunities elsewhere. A slow, steady decline in entrepreneurial spirit will infect the province, to a point, where, like too many parts of Canada, the big deal will be to get a government job and never let it go. STORY CONT ... Read the rest of entry »

Weekly Dish: My word, Ma chef offers tasty food By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 11, 2020

Ma chef Korean Restaurant's "Rocky Mountain" bulgogi is a sight to behold! Photos by GRAHAM HICKS / EDMONTON SUN Ma chef Korean Restaurant 5818 111 St. NW (Lendrum Place Shopping Centre) 780-757-8889 Mon. to Thurs. 11:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. (Fri + Sat to 9:30 p.m., Sun to 8:30 p.m.) Dinner for two, excluding beverages, tip and taxes: Basic, $30, loaded, $60 Food: 5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns No, that is not a typo. The Weekly Dish’s food rating for Ma chef Korean Restaurant is a perfect five Suns out of five. STORY CONTINUES BELOW From this clean, cheerful Korean restaurant,  in the Lendrum Place strip mall just up 111 Street from Southgate,  you’d expect comfort food for sharing with family and friends. Ma chef is that … and waaaaaay more. All six diners in our party were flabbergasted at the superb quality of the dishes coming out of chef/owner Jung Ho (Jacky) Lee’s open kitchen. ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Patience is a virtue By GRAHAM HICKS, first published EDMONTON SUN, February 7, 2020

After 27 years, Dr. Robert Foster's drug developed at the U of A, Voclosporin, has been approved as a treatment for lupus kidney disease. GRAHAM HICKS/EDMONTON SUNEdmonton In the modest south Edmonton office of his latest drug-development company, Dr. Robert Foster can now chuckle about the day in 2007 when his net worth crashed from $30 million to $250,000. The pharmaceutical scientist, businessperson and professor lost his fortune with the collapse of Edmonton-based drug company Isotechnica. The company had been formed to commercialize Voclosporin, an immunosuppression drug Foster had created with a team of University of Alberta scientists and medical researchers. Isotechnica was as good as gone, but Foster never lost faith in Voclosporin’s medical potential. Today, after an incredible 26-year tale involving the cold-hearted realities of the international drug-development world, politics, betrayal, drug regulation and a never-ending search for investment cash, Dr. Foster has been vindicat ... Read the rest of entry »