AUSTIN, Texas (June 5, 2012)It is time to fall fin over gills for the next culinary superstar: the fishmonger. To help shine a light on the skilled specialists behind the seafood case, Whole Foods Market (NASDAQ: WFM) has cooked up a quick-fire battle of a deep sea proportions. After fierce regional battles, 11 fishmongers from Whole Foods Market stores across the country won the chance to compete in the first-ever Fishmonger Face-Off held at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen, Colo., on June 16.  

On the heels of the announcement that Whole Foods Market is the first retailer to no longer carry red-rated wild-caught seafood, the Fishmonger Face-off will highlight its fishmongers who work daily to help educate shoppers about responsibly-caught seafood choices and cooking tips.

“From home cooks to more seasoned chefs, seafood can be mystifying. Whole Foods Market is proud of our passionate, skilled fishmongers who take the guess work out of selecting and cooking fish by offering a little something extra every day, from recipe suggestions, sustainable substitutions, and cut-to-order seafood,” said David Pilat, global seafood buyer for Whole Foods Market. “We couldn’t imagine a better way to honor and celebrate our talented seafood experts than to host this amazing contest amidst some of the biggest food fans and acclaimed chefs in the country.”

Fishmongers will face-off in two phases. They will first try to out-fillet each other with Marine Stewardship Council certified Copper River salmon in a timed challenge. Five winners will be chosen on the highest yield and craftsmanship. The second round will test their knowledge in a game of seafood trivia. The winning fishmonger will then be named, and he will be awarded the coveted golden trident trophy.

The contest will be emceed by Chef John Besh, restaurateur and cookbook author dedicated to the culinary riches of Southern Louisiana and host of the national PBS cooking show “Chef John Besh’s New Orleans.” Judges include Chef Paul Qui, recent James Beard and Top Chef: Texas winner, and David Pilat, global seafood buyer for Whole Foods Market. 

Competing fishmongers include:

  • Mikey “Numba One Cutta” Schmitz of Encinitas, Calif.
  • Bob “The Fish Guy” Reany of Highlands Ranch, Colo.
  • Abbatt “El Tigre” Story of Atlanta, Ga.
  • Andres “Mussels” Barroso of Swampscott, Mass.
  • Zach “Public Anemone” Langford of Austin, Texas
  • Jordan “Stone Crab” Silva of Naples, Fla.
  • Ken “The Rock” Riccardi of Callowhill, Pa.
  • Alejandro “Codfather” Macias of Los Gatos, Calif.
  • Andrew “Wu-Tang Clam” Ogden of Middletown, N.J.
  • Heriberto “Senor Pescado” Medina of Deerfield, Ill.
  • Cavan “The Dog Whisperer” Hua of Vancouver, British Columbia