Students and culinary professionals enjoy a slice of Spanish passion

Iberian ham carving

Students at the University of West London and a host of invited industry professionals were treated to a masterclass in the art of carving Iberian ham today, on an occasion that provided attendees with a chance to learn more about this unique and richly traditional product.

Held in the Pillars Restaurant at the University’s Ealing site, the event formed part of this year’s celebrations of the 70th anniversary of the London Geller College of Hospitality and Tourism. 

The session was introduced by the Head of School, James Edmunds, along with the organiser, Peter Cross, Course Leader on the BSc (Hons) Culinary Arts Management at UWL.

The Ham Passion Tour is a campaign run by the not-for-profit Interprofessional Iberian Pig Association, which has EU funding to educate consumers and culinary arts professionals about this Spanish delicacy. 

To create the unique flavour and texture of Iberian ham, the hind legs are salted, rested, dried and matured over a period of two to three years. The meat is then then tested manually by the ham-maker to ensure it’s ready for market, and will typically be enjoyed over a period of up to four years.

The most celebrated variety of Iberian ham, identified by its black label, comes from 100% Iberian pigs fattened with a diet rich in acorns, with the oily nuts providing the meat with its distinctive marbelling and taste. 

At the end of the presentation and demonstrations, students tried their hands at carving the distinctive credit-card-sized slices under the guidance of the expert carvers. 

Peter Cross said: 

Today provided our students with a fantastic opportunity to learn more about one of Europe’s most celebrated delicacies. Growing numbers of restaurant visitors are demanding authentic food that’s traceable, environmentally sustainable and protects animal welfare. On top of all that, it has to be delicious. Iberian ham is a perfect example of the kind of high-end product our students should be well acquainted with.

The highlight for the day’s attendees was of course the opportunity to taste the famous ham, which was served traditionally in delicate slices arranged into wheels.

Browse the gallery below or learn more about culinary arts and professional cookery at the University of West London.

  • A master carver displaying thin slices of Iberian ham
  • A student learns to carve thin slices of Iberian ham
  • A student learns to carve thin slices of Iberian ham
  • UWL lecturer Peter Cross enjoys a slice of Iberian ham
  • Slices of Iberian ham
  • Attendees at the UWL leg of the Ham Passion Tour
  • Two legs of Iberian ham