On Wednesday, ICE Culinary Management students went on a field trip to the Fulton Fish Market at Hunts Point in the Bronx — an incredible inside look at the market. The market was founded on South Street in Manhattan in 1822, but moved to the new 400,000-square-foot facility in the Bronx in 2005. The building houses the largest consortium of seafood wholesalers in the country and handles about one-third of the New York’s total seafood demand. It is second in size worldwide only to Tokyo’s Tsukiji wholesale seafood market. The New Fulton Fish Market handles millions of pounds of seafood daily, flown in from locations all over the world. Everyday top restaurateurs, chefs and fishmongers come to the market to buy fish and seafood.
The market’s size can be intimidating, but ICE students were able to talk with vendors and get behind the scenes look at how seafood is bought and sold. For ICE’s Culinary Management students, a trip to the market was a unique chance to learn about buying wholesale. The group met at ICE at 4:30 in the morning and took a bus to reach the market by 5:00 am, by which time many of the vendors had already made their biggest sales of the day. Though it was early for the ICE students, it was late for the wholesalers. The market is open from 1:00 am to 7:00 am. They walked through the market talking to the wholesalers, asking them about where they got their fish and how they sell it. Anyone is able to shop there and several of the students even purchased some seafood to take home.
After walking through the market and talking to the vendors, the group headed over to Baldor Specialty Foods, a wholesale purveyor of produce and specialty products. The group toured the Baldor warehouse, learning what it takes to get package of fresh fruit into the hands of the finest chefs in NYC. Staff is available by phone at Baldor until midnight so that chefs and stores can call in their orders and have them the next morning for the day’s menu.
As these students set about on creating their own culinary businesses, this information about buying food wholesale will be invaluable. Speaking with the wholesalers helps them to know about buying and receiving food. It’s a unique opportunity and certainly worth the early morning trip. Plus, Director of Culinary Management Steve Zagor bought breakfast for the group after the trip.