AUSTIN, Texas (July 23, 2012)After months of fierce competition to narrow down the finalists from 300 original contestants, Whole Foods Market’s top three meat cutters are going head-to-head to crown the company’s Best Butcher at Meatopia, the nation’s largest festival of all things meat, Sept. 8 in New York City. Tickets are available at

The annual contest celebrates traditional butchery and recognizes the company’s most accomplished meat cutters. The finalists are:

·        Jon “Kabali” Kalabolas (West Coast champion from the Northern California region)
·        Andy “The Animal” Alcorn (Central U.S. champion from the Rocky Mountain region)
·        Armand “The Arm” Ferrante (East Coast Champion from the Northeast region)

Some 3,000 attendees will watch two rounds of cutting competitions and a final round to test finalists’ creativity. Each will invent an entirely new cut of meat – a steak, chop or roast the world has never seen before. The winner enjoys bragging rights, and their cut placed in Whole Foods Market stores nationwide, starting Sept. 15.

Whole Foods Market and Thrillist, the free daily email that sifts through the junk to find the best of what’s new in your ‘hood, are sending a lucky winner to Meatopia to witness the contest. The grand prize includes airfare for two, hotel accommodations, and early access to Meatopia. Meat lovers can enter online ( by Aug. 5.

“Our butchers spend years and even complete apprenticeship programs cultivating their skills; this contest is our way of recognizing their accomplishments,” said Theo Weening, Global Meat Buyer for Whole Foods Market.

This event highlights the company’s meat quality standards: no antibiotics, no added hormones*, and no animal byproducts in feed. Plus, all of the beef, pork and chicken sold at Whole Foods Market comes from farms certified to the 5-Step Animal Welfare Rating™ program.

“Meatopia honors all aspects of meat, so butchery is an essential element of the event. Since Whole Foods Market has the country's greatest network of master butchers, and an unrivalled commitment to humane, healthy meat, they were our first choice for a partner,” said event founder Josh Ozersky.


*Federal regulations prohibit the use of hormones in raising pork, poultry, goat, veal and bison.