Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Clash of the Cleavers at Meatopia

After many weeks of regional competitions among top butchers at Whole Foods Market stores across the country, eleven finalists in our Best Butcher Competition will go head-to-head for the national title of “Best Butcher.” The competition kicked off in May with more than 300 butchers participating. Now, the semi-finals and finals will be held at the 2011 Amstel Light Meatopia presented by Whole Foods Market on July 23 at New York’s Brooklyn Bridge Park and will showcase how professional butchers execute and merchandise the perfect cuts. We have trained butchers in every single store, which really sets us apart. This competition celebrates these highly regarded in-house butchers and puts the spotlight on the art of butchery — a pursuit that takes a high degree of skill and years of experience to master. They will be demonstrating their prowess in how to use intimidating equipment with precision while breaking down meat without sacrificing its integrity. The Best Butcher Competition takes the idea of popular culinary battles to a new level by allowing an audience to witness this clash of the cleavers in person. Finalists will be judged on presentation, workmanship, knife-handling skills and more. The competition will be accompanied by the full Meatopia event with half a dozen ranchers sharing how they raise their animals, live music, and every kind of meat cookery from over 45 great chefs including Michael White (Ai Fiori, Osteria Morini, Marea) and Michael Psilakis (Kefi, Fish Tag, MP Taverna). We see this event as a great way to place an emphasis on where our meat comes from. It's often easy to forget that the burger, steak or drumstick on your plate was once an animal. How was that animal raised? How was it treated? Where did it come from? What about added hormones and antibiotics? Was its growth artificially accelerated to get to market sooner and reduce feed cost? How can we use all of the animal rather than having parts go to waste? We know some people choose not to eat meat and that’s fine. But if you do, we think that the more you know about our meat, the better. That’s why we've partnered with Global Animal Partnership, a non-profit organization dedicated to continually improving the lives of farm animals, to certify our producers' animal welfare practices through their 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating Standards. Whether pounding or slinging blades and sharpened knives, these regional finalists are some of the most skilled butchers in the business and we honor all of these Whole Foods Market butchers:
    David "Deadly Headley" Headley of Aventura, Florida (Biscayne store) 16 years cutting meat

    Joe “Joey Meat Hooks” Malito of Bellingham, Massachusetts 35 years cutting meat

    Larry “Badda Boom Badda Bing” Mola of Annapolis, Md., 30 years cutting meat

    Eric “Eric the Butcher” Moody of Pasadena, Calif. 13 years cutting meat





    Orlando “O Da Butcher” Vega of New York, N.Y. (Bowery store) 13 years cutting meat


If you’re in the area, join us and cheer on your favorite store butcher. The semi-final competition begins at 6 p.m. on July 23 and the final round is slated for 9 p.m. Go to the Meatopia website for tickets to the whole event.