AUSTIN, Texas (April 3, 2008) – Whole Foods Market (Nasdaq: WFMI), the world’s leading natural and organic foods supermarket, announced today it will attempt a Guinness World Record for “Most Parmigiano Reggiano Wheels Ever Cracked” at the same time to honor the tradition and celebration of this beloved cheese.
“It will be the ‘crack heard around the world’ as we ‘break open happiness’ simultaneously at our 270 stores to try a feat worthy of the Guinness World Records Book,” said Cathy Strange, Global Cheese Buyer for Whole Foods Market. “Each year, we hand select the very best 24-month-aged Parmigiano Reggiano from Italy and are excited to share this crown jewel of cheese by offering tastings, pairing suggestions and recipe ideas to our shoppers, whether they are rediscovering one of their old favorites or are just getting acquainted with this amazing product.”
Saturday, April 12 at 3 p.m. EDT will be the official start time for the “cracking open” ceremonies. Whole Foods Market cheesemongers will demonstrate the traditional method of breaking into 24-month-aged wheels of Parmigiano Reggiano in the Company’s cheese departments worldwide using official tools (five different knives) from Italy’s Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano. The entire process of carving into and portioning each 85-pound wheel will take approximately half an hour and is truly a sight to behold. Further information and a video with a Whole Foods Market Team Member demonstrating the art of cracking open a wheel of Parmigiano Reggiano can be found at www.wholefoodsmarket.com/pressroom/parmigianoreggiano.
“From across the ocean it gives the producers of Parmigiano Reggiano great satisfaction to know that the work of their hands and the labor of their lives is appreciated for its place of origin, its quality, and its health-giving naturalness by all the cheese specialists of Whole Foods Market,” said Giuseppe Alai, President of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano-Reggiano. “With their ‘crack heard around the world,’ they will become an important part of the passion and history that has preserved the integrity of Parmigiano Reggiano cheese for this and future generations to enjoy.”
Crafted by artisans using a tradition dating back almost 800 years, each wheel is carefully aged and cared for and is an expression of its cheese maker’s dedication. The cheese relays terroir at its tastiest and reflects the culinary history of the region itself. Parmigiano Reggiano has been made for centuries in one area of Northern Italy that includes Reggio Emilia, Parma, Modena and portions of Bologna and Mantua. Only in these regions are conditions ideal to produce Parmigiano Reggiano.
Typical of this region’s esteemed food culture and tradition, the cheese is made using artisan methods, often passed down through families from generation to generation. After one year of aging, each wheel that passes the test is branded with a unique proof of authenticity — an oval certification mark — and left to finish aging. That seal guarantees that the cheese was made under the regulations of the Consorzio del Formaggio Parmigiano Reggiano and conforms to its stringent standards of quality.
Each year Whole Foods Market cheese buyers visit the region where Parmigiano Reggiano is produced and hand select wheels based on the best flavor profiles. They buy from just a handful of producers who buyers know personally. “We choose the richest cheese made from the best spring and fall milk. Then our chosen wheels are carefully aged and hand tended for a full two years to bring out the desirable ‘pleasant fireworks’ on the tongue,” said Strange. “In a world of mass-produced food products, we are proud to offer a true hand-crafted work of art.”
Parmigiano Reggiano is a beloved cheese. It is wonderful when served alone or paired with other flavors that highlight its subtle bite and sweet nuttiness. It especially shines when combined with honey-drizzled pears, a creamy risotto or eggs with shaved truffles. And of course, the flavor duo of Parmigiano Reggiano and tomato sauce is one of the most satisfying combinations in food history. These pairing ideas, along with recipes, will be on hand at all of Whole Foods Market stores during the ceremony on April 12.
To maximize the Parmigiano Reggiano celebration, the Company is attempting a Guinness World Record for its “crack heard around the world” as it breaks open hundreds of wheels of cheese at the same time in its cheese departments in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. Guinness World Records is the universally recognized authority on record-breaking achievement. First published in 1955, the annual Guinness World Records book is one of the top-selling books sold annually across the globe. Guinness has agreed to send two “adjudicators” or official judges to attend the ceremonies in the Kensington store in the U.K. and the Bowery Houston store in Manhattan. To certify the official record, confirmation from each store must be received and verified.
“Guinness World Records is pleased to be a part of this monumental day in Whole Foods Market’s history,” said Laura Plunkett, Marketing Director for Guinness World Records Book. “We are eager to receive the verification from all 270 stores and deem this a new record for the most Parmigiano Reggiano wheels ever cracked simultaneously.”
In a match-made-in-heaven partnership, wines from Italy will be featured in select stores during April. A classic pairing for Parmigiano Reggiano is a Chianti, such as the Frescobaldi
Castiglione Chianti, in which the clean aromas of black cherry over nuances of dried plum and spicy sage strike a harmonious balance. The Sicilian Regaleali Nero d’Avola is one of the first of its kind to hit the U.S. with its combination of great taste and great value. The ripe and juicy, Pirovano Barbera offers a delicious complement to red-sauced pasta with shaved Parmigiano Reggiano.