News Release:

Whole Foods Market® crowns the first-ever national Fishmonger Face-Off champion at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen

Bob “The Fish Guy” Reany from Denver reigns supreme, beating out 10 fellow fishmongers in a battle of sharp knives and sharp minds

AUSTIN, Texas (June 18, 2012) — After weeks of fierce regional competitions among top Whole Foods Market fishmongers across the country, 11 finalists competed in the first-ever national Fishmonger Face-Off at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16.  Following an impressive round of battles, the golden trident trophy was presented to Bob “The Fish Guy” Reany from Denver. 

Bob has been a fishmonger for almost 40 years. Currently a seafood team leader at the Highlands Ranch store near Denver, he’s been with Whole Foods Market for six years. His favorite fish is a striped bass, and he loves seafood paella. Bob has earned a reputation as “The Halibut Slayer” is lauded by his team for his knowledge, speed and skills! 

“Our face-off was an incredible opportunity to honor and celebrate our committed and skilled fishmongers. We’re fortunate to have experts behind the seafood counter who guide our shoppers to the best choices for their tastes and budgets and for healthy oceans,” said David Pilat, global seafood coordinator for Whole Foods Market.

Food & Wine Editor-in-Chief Dana Cowin introduced Chef John Besh, acclaimed restaurateur and cookbook author, who emceed the competition at which fishmongers first participated in a challenge of cutting and filleting Marine Stewardship Council certified wild Alaska salmon. The contestants had three minutes to complete the task and were judged on the highest yield and best craftsmanship. Bob stole the show by properly finishing the job in just 90 seconds!

Chef Paul Qui, recent James Beard Award and Top Chef Texas winner, judged the competition along with David Pilat. They selected five finalists to advance to the final round, which tested the fishmongers' seafood prowess in a high-energy game of trivia where Bob again reigned supreme.

“All of the fishmongers who competed in the Face-Off are true artisans and should be proud,” said Chef John Besh. “They showed themselves to be true masters of their craft, passionate about their knowledge of seafood.”

Dancing fishmonger Michael “Numba One Cutta’” Schmitz from Encinitas, Calif. won over the crowd as Fan Favorite from the start of the event, hook, line and sinker.

Michael grew up in Maryland, fishing, shucking oysters, and filleting fish. When he’s not cutting fish for Whole Foods Market, he’s playing the drums or hip-hop and B-boy dancing, which he started at eight-years-old. His favorite seafood dish is fresh Alaskan halibut, seasoned, baked and served with hollandaise sauce, asparagus and rice.

This past April, Whole Foods Market made huge waves by becoming the first national retailer to no longer carry red-rated wild-caught seafood. Shoppers can now easily purchase responsibly-caught wild-caught seafood from fisheries certified sustainable by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) or rated green or yellow by the Blue Ocean Institute or Monterey Bay Aquarium with ease and confidence.

For a blog post on the competitors along with a video, visit blog.wholefoodsmarket.com/2012/06/our-fishmongers-face-off/.


Related Images

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Bob Reany from Denver wins Fishmonger Face-Off

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Winner Bob Reany with Chef John Besh

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Fillet competition at Fishmonger Face-Off

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Fishmongers ready to fillet

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Swordfish shawarma station at Fishmonger Face-Off

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Chef Michael Gulotta

Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin Click for Hi-Resolution

Winner Bob Reany—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Face-Off Judges David Pilat and Chef Paul Qui—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Cutting at the Face-Off—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Cutting at the Face-Off—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Cutting at the Face-Off—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Regional winners—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Fishmonger Face-Off—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Fishmonger Face-Off— Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Winner Bob Reany—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin

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Winner Bob Reany with Chefs John Besh and Paul Qui—Photo Credit: Emily Chaplin




Experts

David Pilat

Global Seafood Buyer

David Pilat has accumulated a wealth of seafood knowledge and experience having worked in several stores, four regions, and Whole Foods Market’s own seafood processing facility in Pigeon Cove based in Gloucester, Massachusetts.

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