Benarraba - World's largest plate of Jamón Ibérico

Record-breaking Ham Carving!

A new Guinness World Record for the largest number of cortadores (carvers) of Iberian ham, simultaneously carving under one roof, was set in Benarraba, near Ronda, in March 2014.

47m2 plate of ham at the 2014 Feria Gastronomica de la Serrania de Ronda. © Michelle Chaplow .
47m2 plate of ham at the 2014 Feria Gastronomica de la Serrania de Ronda.

By Michelle Chaplow

The tiny hidden hamlet of Benarraba, near Ronda, won a place in the Guinness Book of Records on Sunday 2 March 2014 for the greatest number of jamon iberico carvers working together in one place.

A total of 200 people signed up for the event, but due to bad weather and other complications only 161 turned up on the day. Some cortadores travelled over 1000 km to participate, from as far afield as the Canary Islands, Salamanca and the Spanish capital Madrid.

As the minimum specified was 150, thankfully there were still enough carvers to challenge the World Record.

The ground rules were very straightforward: each ham-cutter had a time of two minutes within which to cut five slices of jamon, of a thickness of between 0.5mm (minimum) and 1.5mm (maximum).

Each ham-cutter had a time of two minutes within which to cut five slices of jamon. © Michelle Chaplow .
Each ham-cutter had a time of two minutes within which to cut five slices of jamon.

Presiding over the event in an official capacity were the following: a public notary, three independent witnesses, four independent moderators (with a maximum of 50 participants to monitor each), two time controllers, and an expert in meat carving.

This small hamlet was honoured to have participating in the event two previous world record holders – Cándido Morillo Muñoz, from Seville, and Nico Jimenez, from Extremadura. Jimenez holds the World Record for cutting the longest slice of Iberian ham, at 13.35 metres.

The world-record-breaking carving session was a family event and even the village’s Mayor, Silvestre Barroso Jarillo, and his wife Maria Angeles came along to help out.

The village baker made an enormous loaf of fresh bread for the event. © Michelle Chaplow .
The village baker made an enormous loaf of fresh bread for the event.

The village marquee was bursting at the seams, and after a long pause while the moderators checked that the carved ham fulfilled the set criteria, a huge applause went up as the official new World Record was announced.

Venciador Antonio Ramos was the person who had the wonderful idea to create the largest plate of jamon iberico in the world - which looked like The Red Sea of Ham. Visitors came from far and wide - one young couple in the audience, who had stumbled upon the event by chance, were visiting from Japan.

Nearly 200 ham cutters secured a Guinness World Record in Benarraba. © Michelle Chaplow .
Nearly 200 ham cutters secured a Guinness World Record in Benarraba.

Local carpenter Cristobal Rodriguez had created a modern “plate” to fit around the village fountain. All 47m2 of space was totally covered in jamon iberico, and small children were selected to place the ham in the centre of the plate. The village baker made an enormous loaf of fresh village bread, which was still steaming hot as it was brought into the tent.

Each tray of about 15 pieces of beautifully carved ham was sold for only three euros, and the funds were divided between two charities: Caritas, the Spanish Catholic Charity, and Andagoya, a charity that helps disadvantaged families in Columbia.

Benarraba’s Mayor Silvestre Barroso Jarillo was thrilled with the outcome, and I´m sure that between the Mayor and Antonio Ramos, more record-breaking ideas will be cooked up for next year´s Gastronomic Week. This tasty festival is held in the spring, when the pink and white blossom of the almond trees of the Serrania de Ronda is in full joyous burst and the vibrant yellow mimosa cascades from the trees. An ideal time to make a trip to Benarraba.

Scroll down for more photos of the record-breaking event.

Local children helped to place the ham on the giant table, made by carpenter Cristobal Rodriguez © Michelle Chaplow .
Local children helped to place the ham on the giant table, made by carpenter Cristobal Rodriguez.
Silvestre Barroso Jarillo at the ham cutting world record event, 2014 © Michelle Chaplow .
Mayor of Benarraba Silvestre Barroso Jarillo at the ham cutting world record event, 2014.
The village marquee was bursting at the seams with spectators © Michelle Chaplow .
The village marquee was bursting at the seams with spectators.
The ham carvers celebrate as they set a new world record © Michelle Chaplow .
The ham carvers celebrate as they set a new world record.