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Located in downtown Edmonton, Kitchen by Brad Smoliak is a one-of-a-kind culinary studio. This private event space is home to food and wine events, corporate and private parties, catered meetings, and individual and group cooking classes. Chef Brad Smoliak is a Red Seal Chef who uses local seasonal ingredients to give guests a genuine taste of Alberta. 

We interviewed Smoliak about what helped him stay resilient during the challenges of COVID-19, and how tourism in Alberta can recover and grow even stronger post-pandemic.

What helped you stay resilient over the past year, and how has your business evolved?

I just think of how hard it was for generations before, with the Great Depression and World War II, and how they survived with a lot less “conveniences.” Government support was non-existent during that time, in comparison to now. It has also helped just knowing that the pandemic will eventually come to an end. We, unfortunately, lost all our tourist clientele. We have been doing take-out and plan on doing some pop-ups. We have also focused our efforts on research and development.

What is the most inspiring story or moment you have seen or experienced over the past year?


I am truly amazed at how people have pivoted so well during this time. Most restaurants are doing an exceptional job at changing their menus and trying to stay open.

Chef Brad Smoliak

People dining in a log cabin at an Elk Island National Park dinner event with Kitchen by Brad.

What are your hopes for the future of Alberta’s tourism industry? How will your business play a role in that?

Well obviously, hope for it to grow, and for all Albertans to help promote this province for the amazing place that it is – the entire province! Kitchen by Brad will continue to work with Travel Alberta and Explore Edmonton to promote our city through our participation in FAM tours.  We also host our long-table dinner at the Old Red Barn and the Pandemic Planting Project, which have been extremely successful. We’ve also been working with Norquest College on their hospitality program and NAIT Mawji Centre to promote entrepreneurship. I think there is going to be a tremendous amount of innovation coming out of the province in all sectors, but especially in holiday “experience” tours and cooking classes.

How can industry work together to recover and build even stronger post-pandemic?

We need to work together to promote Alberta as a full destination that has something to offer everyone. Post-pandemic, I think people will want a little more personal space, and we have got lots of that. We need to constantly share our “people” stories, not just of Mother Nature, but the personal connection we have in the industry. I would like to see agriculture and tourism work together to promote this province as a great producer of food for the world. There are many interesting small businesses that are doing innovative things and bringing back a lost art of growing or making something.

Close-up of food preparation inside the Kitchen by Brad Smoliak in Edmonton.

What is the most important thing you want Albertans to know about the value of the province’s tourism industry?

Long before there was oil and gas and the energy sector, this province was built on tourism and agriculture. As the president on Canadian Pacific in the 1900 said, “If we can’t export the scenery, we will import the tourist!” Our scenery is pretty much untouched and as beautiful as back then. Tourism really affects all aspects of the economy, not just the retail and hospitality industries. Some people who visit as tourists come back here to live and contribute to our province.

What do you wish the rest of the world knew about tourism in Alberta?

I don’t think that people truly have an idea of how large and vast Canada and Alberta are. We had a young couple from London who drove from Calgary to Edmonton and had never driven that far and not passed anything, other than farmers’ fields. We had a gentleman from China at Elk Island National Park who cried because he was on top of the hill and could see no people – just blue ski and open fields. Alberta has a diverse history, because so many different immigrants brought their culture to Alberta.

What is your favourite memory of travelling in Alberta?

Almost every year we take a road trip, and I have many fond memories from these trips. In the autumn of 2018, we went to Kananaskis Country. It was super quiet, and we had the spa to ourselves. We enjoyed great weather and great accommodations. We really thought that we were somewhere else, as we totally forgot about home and work and were totally relaxed!

What is your favourite “hidden gem” in Alberta?

The Crownest Pass is my favourite hidden gem. It is less crowded than Jasper or Banff and there are many fun things to do there. Kananaskis Country or Waterton Lakes National Park are great side trips from Crowsnest Pass.  It has it all – great scenery, interesting history, and outstanding fishing. 

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