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Armand "The Arm" Ferrante Crowned Best Butcher In The U.S.

Theo Weening, global meat buyer at Whole Foods Market, adds, "Being a great butcher is about more than cutting meat; it's finding new ways to make the most of the animal and be creative with tasty offerings at a good value. It was a tough competition and Armand really earned this. I believe his cut will appeal to shoppers who are looking for something new, delicious and affordable."

The two runners-up and the innovative new beef ideas they presented were:

  • Jon "Kabali" Kalabolas ( Lafayette, Calif.) with his "Kabali Steak," cut from the shoulder clod
  • Andy "The Animal" Alcorn ( Fort Collins, Colo.) with his "Jacob's Ladder Short Ribs," short ribs tied with herbs

Chef Tim Byres of SMOKE Restaurant in Dallas joined Whole Foods Market's Edmund LaMacchia, global vice president of perishables, and Theo Weening, global meat buyer, to judge the contest. They selected Armand and the Jersey Boneless Short Rib as the winner for a combination of creativity, yield and versatility.

"As a chef, it's important to know the craft of butchery remains alive and well – partially because it's an age-old tradition, and partially because it's fun to cook new and innovative cuts like the Jersey Boneless Short Rib," said Chef Byres. "I tip my hat to Armand for his talent, passion and creativity."

Chef Byres spotlighted the contestants' original beef cuts with a custom recipe – a Dry Rubbed Best Butcher Steak with Pickled Celery, Mustard Caviar and Buttermilk – that he served up to Meatopia attendees. A recipe for Chef Byres' BBQ Beef Chile Rub & Coffee Cure is available at www.wholefoodsmarket.com.

In addition to showcasing the expertise of Whole Foods Market's butchers, the contest highlighted the importance of transparency in sourcing and animal welfare labeling. Whole Foods Market's long-standing quality standards for meat include no antibiotics – ever, no added hormones*, and no animal byproducts in feed. Plus, the 5-Step™ Animal Welfare Rating is customers' way of knowing how the animals were raised for the meat they're buying.

For more information, visit www.wholefoodsmarket.com/meat.

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

The winning cut and Chef Tim Byres' beef rub recipe:

Jersey Boneless Short Rib steak: A great value and a versatile cut, the Jersey Steak starts with a four-bone short rib. Armand removes the meat from the bone – essentially extracting the bone from the still-connected short ribs. The result is a tender, flavorful steak that's easy to grill, roast or pan sear.

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