Jamón Obsession and Life Lessons from the Jefe

I write about  [and consume] jamón in País Vasco so often, I might as well make another post of it.


Dioni, our resident jamón man aptly named after the Greek God of vino (wine), fiesta (party) y frenesí (frenzy), came by with several legs ready to slice for the big birthday bash Martín was throwing for  THE PR lady, one of the geniuses behind the brand MB. More on her later.

Dioni comes around about every other week to carve up some lip-smacking, unctuous goodness to serve at the restaurant and I always place myself strategically by his side to ask questions, help in any way I can and of course, be the self-designated guinea pig. This time, he even gave me a one-on-one lesson and let me slice some for guests on the terrace. Look, we match!


Since the first time we met months ago, I’ve learned a lot not only about jamón but also about amistad. The Basque are often criticized [comparatively to Southern Spaniards] for being cold, closed, unfriendly folk but I have yet to encounter this. Working in Restaurante Martín Berasategui, I’ve developed great relations with a lot of the weekly guests such as our herb supplier Jaime from Aroa, MB’s best friend and Real-Sociedad-#1-fanatic Iñaki, and jamón expert, Dioni here.

I have Martín to thank for this because he has taught me more than I can imagine, one of the biggest lessons being how to treat others. To be a successful jefe (boss), you need to surround yourself with loyal comrades. Invite them to your home [and in this case, restaurant], share a plate of jamón, sip on a gin tonic and chat about business. We Americans may scoff at the informality of these business meetings, but what about our corporate golf outings and the now trendy teambuilding adventures? Are they not business-suit-less, unconventional practices too?

Jamón?  Gin tonic? Sí, por favor.


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