Ronda ham slicer's 50-year career earns him coveted title

Corbacho started his trade when he was just fifteen.
Corbacho started his trade when he was just fifteen. / V. Melgar
  • The National Association of Ham Slicers has given the Ronda businessman Leocadio Corbacho the title of 'Maestro Cortador de Jamón'

Leocadio Corbacho says that hams talk and he can tell at a glance how long it has been cured and its quality. He can also tell the difference between an ordinary serrano ham and an Iberian one, with his eyes closed.

He is 72 years old and started slicing ham when he was just fifteen. His long career has earned him the title of Maestro Cortador de Jamón, (master ham slicer), which he was awarded at a surprise ceremony in Jabugo where he thought he was going to judge a competition.

The title is held by very few people in Spain, and Corbacho believes there is only one other at the moment, in Madrid.

He started with a grocers shop and in 1989 decided to specialise in serrano ham. Start up costs were high as he bought 2,000 'jamónes' for stock, but now he has a successful family business which also exports jamón to various countries and sells online, a concept which he leaves to his sons: "I'm better with a knife than a computer."

His main shop, which incorporates a cafe and gourmet counter, as well as the huge ham selection, is located in Calle Jerez, in Ronda.

His sons, who have taken over the reins of the business, run another shop in Ronda and one in Marbella called 'La Casa del Jamón'.

Corbacho offers advice about buying a ham saying "you get what you pay for". A good serrano ham can cost between 500 and 600 euros.