AUSTIN, Texas (April 7, 2011) — On April 16 at 2 p.m. CDT, Whole Foods Market cheesemongers and even a few of the company’s regional presidents will flex their muscles while making shoppers salivate as they crack open full wheels of the Italian powerhouse – Parmigiano Reggiano.

For the third year, Whole Foods Market cheese departments will spotlight two-year-aged 85-pound wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano as it is traditionally cracked open by Team Members using official tools (five different knives) from Italy’s Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano in a 30-minute carving and portioning process.

“Whole Foods Market loves sharing our passion for Parmigiano Reggiano during this annual event,” said Cathy Strange, Whole Foods Market global cheese buyer. “We are demonstrating the wisdom and expertise of 900 years of delicious cheesemaking with our own carefully-chosen wheels — produced only from spring and fall milk – that are aged for two years to bring out the best of Parmigiano Reggiano’s toasted, buttery, and nutty flavors.”

Shoppers are invited to visit their local store to watch the simultaneous storewide celebratory crack-off, which earned the company a 2008 Guinness World Record for “Most Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels Cracked Simultaneously,” and to sample the rich, flavorful cheese.

Handcrafted by artisans in small batches in only one area of Northern Italy, Parmigiano Reggiano comes from cows grazing on green pastures with rolling hills in a cool climate. The raw milk cheese – lower in fat than many since it is made from partially skimmed milk – has a unique salty crystal crunch that forms when amino acids break down in the aging process.

Parmigiano Reggiano is incredibly versatile beyond a spaghetti garnish. The cheese can be grated onto popcorn or into soups and sauces as a tasty thickener. Parmigiano Reggiano shards can be stuffed into dates with pecans and drizzled with wildflower honey or simply served alongside olives and walnuts on a cheese plate. Shaved, it can add a salty richness to an arugula and tomato salad dressed with balsamic vinaigrette. Light- to medium-bodied reds such as Chianti, Lambrusco or Valpolicella and clean, Italian beers such as Peroni provide classic pairings that rely on “terroir” or a sense of place.

To watch cheesemongers in action during last year’s crack off, please visit For recipes and more information, please visit

About Whole Foods Market®

Founded in 1980 in Austin, Texas, Whole Foods Market (, NASDAQ: WFMI), is the leading natural and organic food retailer. As America’s first national certified organic grocer, Whole Foods Market was named “America’s Healthiest Grocery Store” by Health magazine. The company's motto, “Whole Foods, Whole People, Whole Planet”™ captures its mission to ensure customer satisfaction and health, Team Member excellence and happiness, enhanced shareholder value, community support and environmental improvement. Thanks to the company’s nearly 60,000 Team Members, Whole Foods Market has been ranked as one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For” in America by FORTUNE magazine for 14 consecutive years. In fiscal year 2010, the company had sales of more than $9 billion and currently has more than 300 stores in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.