The Oxford Collection run Jamon Masterclass as part of staff training
Staff working for The Oxford Collection are given the opportunity to increase their knowledge and skills with Masterclasses held throughout the collective. Priding themselves on quality food, drink and equipment The Oxford Collection also invests time into their staff to help them do the best job.
Ivan Palencia Ruiz, dedicated Restaurant Manager at Gees, recently shared his personal experience participating in Gees’ Wine Masterclass and more recently has taken the lead, giving insight into another masterclass recently held at Quod. Teaching the delicate art of slicing Spanish Jamon.
Organised by Gosia Coloszynska, Quod’s senior restaurant manager, a team of six front-of-house ‘collectives’ were invited to participate. The team gained a thorough understanding of the process, quality, and history of the art, as well as the practical skills to cut the perfect slice.
Ivan says, “It was a pleasure to share my knowledge and Quod’s team made me feel really welcome…
Born and bred in Toledo, I have grown up surrounded by this antique legacy, and it makes me feel incredibly proud that The Oxford Collection gave me the opportunity of sharing my knowledge and culture, that I am hoping will resonate with my new colleagues!”
“We were provided with a 100% acorn-fed Jamon DOP Dehesa de Extremadura and in turn, we all had the chance to show our skills in preparing, slicing and distinguishing the different parts of the Jamon, along with its identifying characteristics.”
The legend that lead to the origin of Jamon
The first legend in Spain tells the story of a Roman shepherd who lost one of his pigs and eventually found him by the river near a salt mine. Upon cooking the pig, he realised the flavour on its legs was more accurate and intense. From that moment on, they began the process of burying pigs’ legs in salt for a longer period of time to achieve that distinct taste.
Ivan explains, “When you are able to understand all the effort, process and requirements to obtain such a good product as Jamon, you are gifted with the incredible capacity to enjoy those notes at 100%.”
Ivan continues to describe the importance of training, “Slicing Jamon has a high risk of cutting or even stabbing yourself if you are not careful enough. However, if you receive professional training, the risks drop to the minimum! The most important part is your position when cutting and where you place your hand…Always above the knife, holding the Jamon. That is why training is so important for our staff, to keep helping them in the development of their careers.”
The participants were able to take away three top tips covered by Ivan in the Masterclass
1. The ‘mise-en-place’
“As hygiene is really important! Keeping your working area tidy will help you to maintain focused and relaxed.”
“You must know your knives, keeping them clean and sharp. Doesn’t matter how good you think you are, if you don’t have the proper knives to work with, you will not be able to give your all…I personally use three different knives, the ‘jamonero’, a 28cm blade length to slice (the dimensions change according to the size of your hand), the ‘puntilla’, a shorter thicker and stronger knife, used to separate the meat of the bone and maximise the efficiency of our ham, and the ‘carnincero/butcher’s knife’, used to peel the leather of the jamon, tendons, even separate bones.”
3. The perfect slice
“When you are slicing the ham, it is not about how thin or long you can make it. A perfect slice must be between 1.5in and 2in. Masters say that the proper slice has to be thin enough to be able to read a newspaper through it.”