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Q&A with Kathy Jones of Junonia Fish Market
The executive chef at Iozzo’s Garden of Italy opens her own fresh-fish stand in City Market. We went fishing for some answers.
What is your background?
I grew up in Ft. Myers, Florida. My stepdad was a charter boat captain, so that kind of got me started on fresh fish. I’d always been interested in cooking, and I worked for a restaurant on Captiva Island growing up called the Chez Rondelet. That’s where I got my training.
After Ft. Myers, then what?
I went to the Culinary Institute of America, and then I went to Florida State University and graduated from there. I have a degree in humanities, which I’ve never used. I’ve been in restaurants all my life, executive chef for the last 25 years. And I’ve been at Iozzo’s since its opening four years ago.
Will you continue at Iozzo’s?
I’ll continue to be the executive chef at Iozzo’s and also run the fish market. I’m at the fish market all day on Wednesdays and all day on Saturdays. I also come in every morning to receive the fish, cut it, and deal with all that.
Where do you get your fish?
I use Honolulu Fish Company, and it’s flown in every day. They have the only fish auction in the United States. It’s kind of like the Japanese Fish Auction. My guy will call me up and tell me what they’re going to have at the auction, and I’ll say, “I’ll take five pounds of this, five pounds of that.” I also have a vendor in Chicago who deals with the whole East Coast. Knowing where the fish comes from is important. I don’t know that you can go into any of the local supermarkets and and have them tell you, “This fish came off of the fishing vessel, the Loon, and it was caught on this date.” I think I can. All of the fish is sustainable, too. It’s all long-line caught.
Will you do special orders?
If I can get it, I’ll get it in for you. And it doesn’t have to be a huge quantity. Most of my fish purveyors, I don’t have to order 10 pounds of something to get it in. That’s what keeps it fresh.
City Market began as more of a fresh grocer with produce and meat stands, but it has turned into more of a food court. Thoughts?
I think it’s such a cool space, and I would love to see it turn back into a grocery store-type setting. I would like to see part of that come back, and I would like to see the market thrive at night. They’re building all of these apartments, and so many condos are coming in. I think that’s what City Market needs to be.
What goals do you have for the fish market?
I definitely want to see it grow with City Market. I think we may do some things with Tomlinson Tap Room. Maybe on a Wednesday night we’ll prepare some food for them. But my goal is to see people interested enough in it to come and go, “Wow, this is good fresh fish!” I think that’s my goal—to get people to understand that you don’t always have to eat out to get a good meal. Believe me, I’m a chef; I want you to come into the restaurant. But you can still cook your own meal, at home, with a decent piece of fish.
Where did this idea come from?
I had a food truck here in Indy called Floribbean Flair that was open during Super Bowl. We were open for about a year. It was all Caribbean and Florida stuff. We did fish tacos, crab cakes, and some jerk chicken. That was a really cool concept. I started thinking it would be neat to have a food boat that would go out on like Lake Monroe. Then I’m like, okay I’m not going to do that. That’s something for when I retire and go back to Florida.
How did you come up with the name?
Last year, we were in Sanibel right after the hurricane came through. The shelling was awesome, and the Junonia is a very rare shell, really hard to find and really desirable. So, the whole trip, we were trying to find a Junonia. That’s all we did the whole time we were there—drink wine and look for Junonias. After the fish market came about, I said, “We have to call it Junonia!” It’s a rare shell, and everybody wants it.