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Cooking with Joe Tuna


Joe “Tuna” Centrone, a seaport legend, is well known in New York’s food industry for his charismatic personality, charming wit, and skills in any kitchen. Born in 1954 in Woodside, Queens, New York, Joe was raised in a working class neighborhood of mostly Irish, German, and Italian immigrants. His father Sal and mother Clara were Italian immigrants from the small town in Bari, Italy. Joe came from a very large family. As a kid, Joe spent a lot of time watching and helping his grandmother prepare food.
Joe’s beginnings in the food industry were humble. While in high school, his father bought a white tablecloth restaurant in Long Island called Lazio’s. Joe worked his way up to second cook quickly, thanks to the skills fostered by his grandmother from a young age. During his time at the restaurant, his father taught him some of his best lessons. Sal Centrone believed “a good sauce will cover up the sins of the world” and “if it doesn’t look good to your eye, it will never taste good in your mouth.”

Joe took those lessons with him when he landed at Terry’s Seafood in Queens as a purveyor in 1980. It was there that Joe gained his reputation in the seafood industry. Over the next 20 years, Joe’s appetite contributed to his declining health; he was diagnosed with diabetes in 2004. It was then that Joe decided to lead a healthier lifestyle. Tuna underwent lap-band stomach surgery in 2005 and shed 80 pounds. Today, Joe is healthy and determined to reach out to others who are considering a healthier diet. Joe has been married to his wife, Carol, for almost thirty years and has three daughters, Nicole, Gina, and Lisa. Joe Tuna has world-class taste, loves to cook, eat, tell old stories, and occasionally smoke a good cigar.

About the Fulton Fish Market

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The Fulton market was historically located in lower Manhattan, near the Brooklyn Bridge, just a few blocks from Wall Street. The market first opened on that site in 1807 on land donated to New York City, and at first was a general market for both fish and goods other than fish. In 1822 the fish merchants occupied a new Fulton Fish Market building, located on South Street between Fulton and Beekman Streets.

Prior to 1850, housekeepers from Brooklyn and nearby areas would purchase fish directly from the market. However, since that time, wholesale customers were the primary buyers The market gradually gained in importance, and in 1924 the market sold 384 million pounds of fish, 25 percent of all seafood sold in the United States.
 The Fulton Fish market was primarily located in two open air structures, the “Tin Building” and the “New Building,” in which various dealers rented stalls from the Port Authority of New York with closed offices at the back of the stalls. The New Building was opened in 1939 by Mayor La Guardia, after pilings of the old market building gave way in 1936 and the entire building slid into the river.
Not only was the marketplace old and established, but many of the wholesalers at the Fulton market were well-established firms. Fish typically began arriving at the market around midnight. Historically, fish was received at the port of New York City by boat, but subsequently, all fish was brought in by truck or air from other areas. The market was open from three to nine in the morning on Monday and Thursday and from four to nine on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Teams of loaders transported the fish from the trucks to the stalls by hand trucks and small motorized pallet trucks. Once the buyers chose their fish, the loaders reloaded the fish onto the customers’ trucks.

Based on estimates from the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA, 2005) and from the New York Time, The Fulton Fish Market volume and estimates of U.S. fish consumption per capita, about 5 percent of U.S. seafood sales flowed through the Fulton market. Restaurants and merchants outside coastal areas usually use national seafood brokers to supply their fresh fish, bypassing a centralized market completely.

Joe makes one of his delicious seafood dishes at The Fulton Fish Market, home to Cooking With Joe Tuna

On November 14, 2005, after 180 years of operation in South Manhattan, the Fulton Fish Market which is the largest consortium of seafood wholesalers in the country, relocated its operations to the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center in the Bronx to an indoor fully refrigerated HAACP facility - The New Fulton Fish Market.

The 400,000 square foot facility constructed at a cost of over $86,000,000, houses 37 seafood wholesale businesses. These businesses offer the freshest and most diverse selection of seafood combined with competitive pricing and year round availability. Wholesalers, seafood retailers, supermarkets, discerning restaurateurs and customers from around the country, purchase fresh and frozen seafood daily.

The New Fulton Fish Market is located in the heart of the Bronx within the Hunts Point Food Distribution Center.

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