HicksBiz Blog

Hicks weekly dish: One problem with Porkapalooza BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JUNE 21, 2016

There’s only one problem with Porkapalooza, the successful early summer barbecue food festival held last weekend (June 17 & 18, 2016) at Clarke Park/Stadium. Meat is sold by the 30 food vendors and food trucks on site. But only the judges taste the fabulous cooking from the 42 teams entered in the barbecue competition. It’s like watching beautiful plates of food go by at a fine restaurant, with none for you: To have one’s nose scrunched up against the window pane, gazing at goodies beyond your reach: To be told as a kid that it’s “FEL” night — Family Eat Less — at gramma’s Sunday night dinner. Unexpected relatives have shown up. It was to suffer, to downright suffer, to view, smell but not taste Darren Cave’s beautiful Scotch quail eggs as they were carried from the Red Boar BBQ team’s smoker across the festival grounds to the judges’ quarters for the (optional) ground pork cooking category. Instead, I had to buy barbecue ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Cost-competitive refineries can be built in Alberta BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JUNE 17, 2016

In the 2008 provincial election, then-Premier Ed Stelmach pushed hard for processing more Fort McMurray bitumen in the province, exporting finished refinery products like diesel and gasoline. Steady Eddie likened the export of bitumen to "scraping off the top soil" from Alberta farmland instead of growing crops. It never happened. A small portion of our total bitumen production is turned into gasoline and diesel fuels at local refineries for the Western Canadian market, but over 90% of the 2.5 million barrels of bitumen produced every day is pipelined to big upgrader/refinery operations in the USA. Original thinker Ian MacGregor, chair and CEO of the $8.5 billion Sturgeon Refinery now being built north of Fort Saskatchewan, says the entire equation is ready to be turned upside down. It’s now economically feasible, he says, for Alberta to process and refine its bitumen hydrocarbons here, emission-free to boot. MacGregor seems to be the only powerful guy in the oil patch who’s incorporat ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Four types of KFC BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JUNE 14, 2016

Coco Deep Fried Chicken 3350 Parsons Rd. (Also 12620E 132 Ave.) 780-990-4304 www.cocochicken.ca Mon-Tues: 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. Wed-Sat: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sun: 1 p.m. to 9 p.m.  Seoul Fried Chicken 7904-104 St. 780-761-3616 SFC Seoul Fried Chicken 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. seven days a week  It’ dog 8621 109 St. 780-438-4083 It’ dog 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., later on weekends. Wing Chicx 2912 Ellwood Dr. (off Parsons Road) 780-466-2852 www.wingchicx.com 11:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m (10 p.m. weekends) Closed Tuesdays   No wonder we love ’em. Hot, moist, crunchy, garlicky, sweeter than candy … what is there not to like about Korean fried chicken? Other than the 350 calories per drumstick or wing, the off-the-dial cholesterol threat and yet another deep-fried, sugary food contributing to man-made diabetes? Colonel Sanders is to blame for the original KFC – that paper bucket full of sinfully good Kentucky Fried Chicken, the skin transformed by boi ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Proving to the world that “green oil” is not only possible, but practical BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, JUNE 10, 2016

(Part 2 of a 3-part series) It’s dawning on us, here in oil-rich Alberta. If we don’t solve this CO2 emission thing, we could be doomed to go the way of the Maritimes, the way of Detroit and the American “rust belt”, the way of so many once-thriving, now-economically-depressed regions that did not adapt to changing circumstances. “It’s not complicated,” says Ian MacGregor, the visionary behind the $8.5 billion state-of-the-art Sturgeon Refinery, now being built north of Fort Saskatchewan.  “To produce any oil-based products, we need hydrogen. For every molecule of hydrogen we make, we produce a molecule of CO2.” “We’re in a hole to begin with,” says MacGregor.  “But a hill can be built in the hole. We have the tools and technology to flip CO2 from an environmental liability to a value-added asset.” That’s exactly what’s happening today. Hand-in-hand with construction of the Sturgeon ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: Chartier is simply fantastic BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, JUNE 07, 2016

Chartier #102, 5012 50 St. Beaumont 780-737-3633 www.dinechartier.com Tues to Thurs. 4 p.m. to close Fri. 11 a.m. to close Sat. and Sun. 10 a.m. to close (Bread window, open weekday afternoons) Food: 5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 4 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, basic $40, loaded $70 For a restaurant to earn a five (out of five) Sun rating for food in this column is no easy feat. Everything must be perfect. Every dish must be attractive, delicious, inspiring, even challenging. Over five years, The Weekly Dish has only given out five Suns seven times – to Zinc, North 53 when Ben Staley was chef, Corso 32 (twice), RGE RD, Black Pearl Seafood and one fine evening at Hart’s. So congratulations to the new French-Canadian Chartier restaurant, a down-to-earth, whimsical and inviting eatery in the Franco-Albertan community of Beaumont, less than a 30 minute drive from south Edmonton. Every food item served was so absolutely superb as to w ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: NW Refining Thinking outside the box BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: MONDAY, JUNE 06, 2016

Without question, NW Refining's Ian MacGregor is "the craziest guy on the block." Thanks to the crash of world crude oil prices to their lowest (ongoing) levels of the past 35 years, the big oil companies operating in Northern Alberta have pulled in their horns. Once existing expansion projects are finished, there's not a whisper of future expansion. But MacGregor, the chairman, CEO and president of NW Refining (formerly North West Upgrading) sees something the multi-national integrated oil companies don't. Ian MacGregor has raised $8.5 billion to take his vision to reality: A partnership between NW Refining, the independent Canadian oilsands producer CNRL and the government of Alberta, the Sturgeon Refinery is slowly taking shape north of Fort Saskatchewan, with startup in 2017. The refinery is, in the language of innovation, "disruptive". It will be the first to convert dilbit (diluted bitumen from the oilsands) directly into high-grade, ultra-lowsulphur diesel fuel and other petrochemical products ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks Weekly Dish: International buffet well done BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MAY 31, 2016

Plates International Buffet 3975 Calgary Trail 780-428-8877 www.platesbuffet.com Mon. to Thurs. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Fri. & Sat. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., 4:30 p.m. to 10 p.m     Food: 4 of 5 Suns Ambience: 3.5 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip, set price; weekday dinner $84, weekend dinner $108 – senior and children pricing as well.   Green beans, perfectly cooked, as fresh as if newly picked. Pasta al dente with just the right resistance at the end of the bite. A slice of soft, tender, juicy lamb, without gristle or excessive fat. In a buffet? Ya gotta be kidding! I am not. It is now possible, Matilda, to have a top-notch buffet lunch, dinner or weekend brunch in Edmonton, with food quality within hailing distance of the city’s top sit-down restaurants. Before dining, you’ll be slightly shocked at the Plates International ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Weathering the Fort McMurray wildfire BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN : FRIDAY, MAY 27, 2016

The road to Canada had been long, rough and rocky, but was slowly smoothing out. And then, the Great Fort McMurray Fire. Being born and raised in the Philippines is doubly tragic. Through past failures of leadership, corruption and the breakdown of law and order, the “Pearl of the Orient” after World War II remains mired in poverty. Filipinos are intensely aware of their condition. Filipinos have historic ties to Europe and the USA, are well-educated, English-speaking and Catholic, making it easier to work overseas. They may have been $15 an hour jobs, but for Mary Anne Gutierrez, working in Fort McMurray was winning the lottery.  Years before, she left her family and her young daughter in the Philippines to work in Hong Kong as a nanny/housekeeper. Filipinos are not well-treated in such countries, but at least there’s money to send back home. Working in such Asian and Middle Eastern countries also built experience for the big prize: To qualify to come to Canada, not a ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks weekly dish: Glasshouse Bistro good not great BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: TUESDAY, MAY 24, 2016

The Glasshouse Bistro & Cafe Enjoy Centre, 101 Riel Drive St. Albert 780-651-7361 glasshousebistro.ca Mon. to Wed. 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thurs. to Fri. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sat., 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Food: 3.5 of 5 Suns Ambience: 4 of 5 Suns Service: 3.5 of 5 Suns Dinner for two: Excluding drinks and tip; basic $35, loaded $55   It’s Sunday brunch or lunch, Saturday dinner … the relatives are in town and Gramma wants to take the gang out for food. But where to go? Gramma wants quiet and minimal distraction. The kids want entertainment. Uncle Fred is a meat ‘n’ potatoes fella, Auntie Awkward is all about cuisine. Fred Jr. is in his vegetarian phase. Write this one down: The Glasshouse Bistro & Café in St. Albert’s Enjoy Centre. It’s a beautiful site, an unusual and inviting place for light or full dining. The Glasshouse has that afternoon-tea comfyness, is spacious and airy with the finest uninterru ... Read the rest of entry »

Hicks on Biz: Let’s not repeat Ontario’s mistakes BY GRAHAM HICKS FIRST POSTED EDMONTON SUN: FRIDAY, MAY 20, 2016

I recently took a three-day course entitled “Economics for Journalists.” The most important lesson was that government spending is about choices, about making wise choices for the long run, not just for the next election. There’s no practical reason to debate Canada’s role in lowering carbon emissions to save the planet. That argument has been won. Today, the debate is now about what government policies will best encourage the lowest-cost route to a low-carbon future. A low-emissions future that’s cleaner, greener, safer, faster and at least the same price, if not cheaper, than what we have today. Ontario has become a case study on how not to create a low-carbon future. Its first climate change action plan, from 2009 to 2016, has been an economic disaster. Electricity prices in Ontario are among the world’s highest with little to show for it. The Ontario auditor general says phase one of Ontario’s climate change action plan cost $37 billion more than ex ... Read the rest of entry »
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