AUSTIN, Texas – Now that many weeks of regional competitions among top butchers at Whole Foods Market stores throughout the US have ended, 11 finalists in the retailer's Best Butcher Competition will compete for the national title of "Best Butcher." The semi-finals and finals will be held at the 2011 Amstel Light Meatopia presented by Whole Foods Market on July 23 at New York's Brooklyn Bridge Park and will showcase how professional butchers execute and merchandise the perfect cuts.

Whole Foods Market's Best Butcher Competition allows an audience to witness this competition in-person. This final stage of competition features two preliminary rounds with the top two finalists from each round advancing to the final competition. Participants will be judged on presentation, workmanship, knife-handling skills and more. Both early rounds of competition will be accompanied by cooking demonstrations by noted Chefs Michael White and Michael Psilakis.

"We have trained butchers in every single store, which really sets us apart,” said Theo Weening, global meat buyer for Whole Foods Market. “Reminiscent of old-fashioned butcher shops, our butchers provide one-on-one customer service offering information about our quality products and tips for preparation. We came up with the competition idea to celebrate these highly regarded in-house butchers and spotlight the art of butchery — a pursuit that takes a high degree of skill and years of experience to master."

Regional Whole Foods Market finalists are awarded with an all-expenses paid trip to New York and will be challenged with having to use professional equipment with precision to break down meat without sacrificing its integrity. The finalists are: Gil "Moon" Baxter of Sebastopol, Calif.; David "Deadly Headley" Headley of Aventura, Fla.; Joe "Joey Meat Hooks" Malito of Bellingham, Mass.; Larry "Badda Boom Badda Bing" Mola of Annapolis, Md.; Eric "Eric the Butcher" Moody of Pasadena, Calif.; Craig "Papa Bear" Pawlowski of Rochester Hills, Mich.; Scott "Rosie" Rosenberg of Bellevue, Wash.; Abie "The Machine" Sanchez of Albuquerque, NM; Hans "Grizz" Van Der Enden of Dallas, Texas; Orlando "O Da Butcher" Vega of New York, NY; and Greg "Woody" Woodfield of Memphis, Tenn.

Whole Foods kicked-off the Best Butcher Competition in May at their stores throughout the US with more than 300 butchers participating. The semi-final competition begins at 6 p.m. on July 23 and the final round is slated for 9 p.m. For tickets to Meatopia including the Best Butcher Competition, visit www.meatopia.org.

Whole Foods Market, which calls itself the leading natural and organic food retailer, had sales of more than $9 billion in fiscal year 2010, and it currently operates more than 300 stores in the US, Canada and the United Kingdom.