Whole Foods Best Butcher and Fishmonger Face-Off; Broward and Palm Beach Stores Competed (Photos)

Competition was fierce yesterday. With the beat of the Rocky theme blasting in the background, four butchers and four fishmongers from stores across Broward and Palm Beach counties sparred for the title of Best Butcher and Best Fishmonger at Whole Foods Market Boca Raton.

With the chance to compete at next week's Regional finals in North Miami, and the ultimate opportunity to contend in the National Finals during Feast Portland in September, the battle was intense.

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The meat challengers included Michael "Short Rib" Collins from Palm Beach Gardens, Terry "the Razor" Hughes from Fort Lauderdale, Chris "Machete" Wells from Boca Raton, and "Perfect Portion Patrick" Patrick Donovan from Wellington.

The Fishmonger contestants included Corey "Bird Dog" Hopkins (Boca Raton), Jim "the Terminator" Bradley (Fort Lauderdale), "The Italian Salyer" Frank Ficara (Wellington), and Tom Lower (Palm Beach Gardens).

The butchers were given 15 minutes to properly cut and present a bottom round -- basically, the thigh of a cow. The butchers did not know which piece of meat they'd be working with until the competition. The goal was to get as many nice-looking cuts as possible to increase profitability.

"The meat needs to be appealing to the eye," said Edward Steadley, Florida Region's Seafood Coordinator. "No matter how much you get out of it, if you don't sell it, it doesn't really matter."

Same went for the fishmongers. Each was given a whole salmon -- which was revealed minutes before the competition -- and had ten minutes to fillet the fish. No one came close to the ten minute mark -- they each finished in under two minutes.

And the winners were... On the meat side: Chris Wells From Boca Raton. And the fish champion was Frank Ficara from Wellington.

Wells and Ficara will be competing at the Regional Finals on Tuesday at 11 a.m. at Whole Foods North Miami. The address is 12150 Biscayne Blvd. in North Miami. Call 305-892-5500, or visit wholefoodsmarket.com/stores/northmiami‎.

Follow Sara Ventiera on Twitter, @saraventiera.

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