Whole Foods Crowns Fishmonger Face-Off Champ

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Whole Foods Crowns Fishmonger Face-Off Champ


After weeks of regional competitions among top Whole Foods Market fishmongers across the country, 11 finalists competed in the first-ever national Fishmonger Face-Off at the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen on June 16, with the golden trident trophy was presented to Bob "The Fish Guy" Reany from Denver.

Reany has been a fishmonger for almost 40 years. Currently a seafood team leader at the Highlands Ranch Whole Foods store near Denver, he's been with Whole Foods for six years. His favorite fish is a striped bass, and he loves seafood paella. Bob has earned a reputation as "The Halibut Slayer" is lauded by his team for his knowledge, speed and skills.

"Our face-off was an incredible opportunity to honor and celebrate our committed and skilled fishmongers,” said David Pilat, global seafood coordinator for Whole Foods. “We're fortunate to have experts behind the seafood counter who guide our shoppers to the best choices for their tastes and budgets and for healthy oceans.”

Food & Wine editor-in-chief Dana Cowin introduced Chef John Besh, acclaimed restaurateur and cookbook author, who emceed the competition at which fishmongers first participated in a challenge of cutting and filleting Marine Stewardship Council-certified wild Alaska salmon. The contestants had three minutes to complete the task and were judged on the highest yield and best craftsmanship. Bob stole the show by properly finishing the job in just 90 seconds.

Chef Paul Qui, recent James Beard Award and Top Chef Texas winner, judged the competition along with David Pilat. They selected five finalists to advance to the final round, which tested the fishmongers' seafood prowess in a high-energy game of trivia where Bob again reigned supreme.

"All of the fishmongers who competed in the Face-Off are true artisans and should be proud," said Chef John Besh. "They showed themselves to be true masters of their craft, passionate about their knowledge of seafood."

This past April, Whole Foods became the first national retailer to no longer carry red-rated wild-caught seafood.