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katie button, cinco jotas

Pioneering Women and Cinco Jotas celebrate together International Women's Day

For this Women's Day, we want to recognize all those women,  that are in one way or another linked to Spain's national treasure Jamon Iberico de Bellota Cinco Jotas.

As Spaniards living in Canada, Cinco Jotas is not just a flavor, it also transports us to our land, our culture, and our family. 

Chef Katie Button, Master Cellar Cristina Sanchez and the professional Master Ham Carver Zulima Esteban share with us their stories and personal link to this acclaimed brand. 

Chef Katie Button

Executive Chef, CEO, Katie Button Restaurants Cúrate and Button & Co. Bagels

She's worked for José Andrés and for Ferran Adrià at the world-renowned elBulli in Spain. 

 She and her husband opened a Spanish tapas restaurant, Cúrate which was named as one of “40 Most Important Restaurants of the Past 40 Years” by Food & Wine, and one of “Most Important Restaurants of the Decade” by Esquire. 

Katie, her husband Felix Meana and Cúrate are Cinco Jotas Ambassadors in US.

  Nowadays, she holds the title of Executive Chef and CEO of the restaurant group Katie Button Restaurants which includes Cúrate, Button & Co. Bagels, and Nightbell, all located in Asheville, North Carolina.

When your passion for gastronomy is born? How do you discover that you want to dedicate yourself professionally to it?

 My mother was a caterer growing up, and her work and passion for food was my first glimpse into the world of gastronomy. I grew up with a love of food and travel - and was lucky to be exposed to both. I was living in DC, about to start a Ph.D program at the National Institute of Health, when I realized that being in lab the rest of my life wasn't going to make me happy.

 I wandered into a  Jose Andres restaurant with no experience in the food and beverage industry. I'll never forget that they handed me a quiz to test my food knowledge. I passed it with flying colors, and they offered me a position in the front of the house. That moment set me on an adventure I could have never expected. 

As a female leader and renowned chef in a male-dominated profession, what has been the most significant barrier in your career?

I realize that I have had many privileges in my life that others have not. As a female leader, I also realize the responsibility I have to do things the right way, challenge the system to create an industry that is equitable, fair and healthy for all restaurant employees. A few years ago, I was in the audience at the James Beard Awards when I heard Jose Andres give a speech - he said, ""I want you to see the world's greatest challenges not as problems but as opportunities". That one quote switched the way that I think about who we are as chefs and restaurant owners and the long lasting positive impact and change that we can have on the restaurant industry if we put our minds to it.  We are more than the last plate of food we served. 

" As a female leader, I also realize the responsibility I have to do things the right way, challenge the system to create an industry that is equitable, fair and healthy for all restaurant employees"

Cinco Jotas Iberico Ham is considered Spain national's treasure. What role do you think Iberico ham plays as part of Spanish gastronomy? Why would you recommend Cinco Jotas? 

 I've said many times, Cinco Jotas is like the Cadillac of hams. The idea that it's a product that simply cannot be replicated breeds beauty and appreciation. It's unique in it's flavor and texture because of SO many factors: breed, seasonality of that region of Spain, landscape and flora -- terroir. It represents decades of perfection, tradition, and simplicity by showcasing one product in its best form, which to me are the core pillars of Spanish cuisine. Not only is the product superior, Cinco Jotas has been a great partner for us - always willing to collaborate and celebrate our projects.

" Cinco Jotas is like the Cadillac of hams"

You choose the name of Cúrate for your restaurant which means ‘cure yourself’ in Spanish, reflecting your belief that there are curative effects in sharing good food with your beloved ones. What dish is never missing in your family gatherings?

At our family gatherings, pan con tomate, or pa amb tomaquet, is the dish that is never missing from the table.  It's so simple toasted bread, fresh tomato, olive oil, and salt.  And its the perfect accompaniment to an appetizer spread with cheese, and cinco jotas jamon, or grilled sausages and vegetables. 

What is some of the advice you share with young women entering a male-dominated profession?

 Find the right company, lend your talents to the right people. Don't settle for something that doesn't feel right. Think about happiness in totality, work being an important component, but not the sole component of happiness. 

As brand ambassador of 5J and famous chef, what is your favorite  way to enjoy this delicacy? 

There's no wrong way! It's special every time. My favorite way to enjoy it is around a table with friends or family, alongside a glass of fino sherry, sneaking a bite in between laughs. 

"Cinco Jotas it's special every time"

How do you see the role of women in the future of gastronomy?

Women are often the source of inspiration - for great chefs around the world, male and female. Honoring those women, finding solutions to maternity leave and childcare, elevating the women in our ranks to management - a holistic approach is needed to level the playing field.


Cellar Master and quality manager Cinco Jotas

Cristina is the first woman to direct the cellars at Cinco Jotas. 

At 24, she joined Cinco Jotas as a fourth-generation employee. and only a couple of years later, she became its first female cellar master.

 As a  responsible for quality control in a prestigious company such as Cinco Jotas, how is your day to day? 

 My day to day is taking care of  the jewels of the house together with my great team. We take care of our jamones when they enter our cellars until they go out to customers.

In Spain it is said that we are born with bread under the arm, but in your case we can say without mistake that you were born with a jamon under the arm. Could you please tell us a little more about the ties of your family and the Cinco Jotas company.

My family has been present since the beginning of 5J, my great-grandfather José Miguel Sánchez who began to distribute the products, first with a car and finally with the first truck in the area. My grandfather Miguel and my father Leonardo dedicated their entire working lives to taking care of the maintenance of the entire company . I grew up surrounded by this environment and that awakened my desire to dedicate myself to it too

What makes Cinco Jotas so special that generation after generation your family continues to choose to work in this company 

When you talk about  Cinco Jotas, it  is like saying Jabugo and for us Jabugueños and especially my family it is a pride to work at 5J

" When you talk about Cinco Jotas, you talk about our land, Jabugo"

Have you had difficulties developing your career in a predominantly male sector?

When I entered the cellars as a manager I was only 27 years old, I entered a world where only men had passed generation after generation through the cellars. At first it was a bit complicated for a girl to guide the cellars master but step by step we managed to form the great equipment that we have today in Cinco Jotas.

Can you tell us more about the quality control that Cinco Jotas follow to ensure the highest quality?

  The secret of our product is to control the entire process. From the origin we have a team that genetically selects the animals. Living in our pastures in freedom they are fed and raised with the excellence that we seek in Cinco Jotas. All our pigs are 100% Iberian, black label following  the Iberian Standard legislation. The entire curing process has not changed since its inception, but we have increased our  quality controls, becoming more and more strict every day. Therefore, each step of the process is monitored by those responsible for quality and the great masters that we form Cinco Jotas.

What advice would you give to other women who want to develop a position like yours?

 Women working in a position of responsibility are increasing every day. I was the first woman to be in a position of responsibility but women are present in every department in Cinco Jotas. For my perspective, it is very satisfying to work on what you like and also in your own town.  My advice for every woman is to work towards their ideal position with effort and perseverance.


Manager Madrid Area " Los Finos"

Los Finos is a team of ham carvers leader in the sector and growing every day. 

  Zulima is the operations manager and the Manager for Madrid Area and a marvelous master ham carver. She is popular for smiling while carving..

She has participated in many events by the hand of Cinco Jotas.

How is your day-to-day work as a master ham carver?

The truth is there is no "day to day", zero routine. In this situation that we are experiencing, everything is calmer, I dedicate an average of 4 hours a day to office work with my partners with the administration of our company Los Finos and working on medium and long-term projects and another 2 hours of training .

I also carve and manage the carvers team in several restaurants in the center of Madrid and some sporadic events or advertising. Under normal circumstances apart from this, I travel very often and each week is a different agenda of events, places and way of working.

How did your passion for carving start?

My relationship with the pigs comes since I was a kid as my family owns a farm in Aranda de Duero, Burgos, ( north of Spain) but my contact with the world of ham began in 2006 in charcuterie. Although I carved very little ham there, more by machine to be honest, I started to investigate and feel interested.

After researching, I end up feeling like it was not really a profession in the north of Spain, specially for a woman, but in Madrid ( capital of Spain) there were more opportunities. I found a training ham carver taught by a female and something clicked on my mind. Since that day, the jamon has led me to show my way.  

Have you had difficulties developing your career in a predominantly male sector?

Absolutely not and my partners are two men; Carlos Sánchez and Roberto Gutiérrez. In the world of events, it continues to surprise some clients who expect a male master carver  and when a woman appears they feel surprised but I have to say that 70% of the people we deal with in the sector are women, so perhaps it is no longer so predominantly male as we believe.  As an example, right now I share a team with Laura, Alba, Natalia and Andrea, David, Alfredo and Jesús. .

" 70% of the people we deal in the sector are women"

What part of your job and the sector do you like the most?

Of course the direct contact with the consumer, the constant challenge and that there is so much to do as  the possibilities are endless.

What events did you have the chance to attend with Cinco Jotas?   

Working with Cinco Jotas is synonymous with a spectacular event. With them I have the opportunity to carve at the Mutua Madrid Open de Tenis, at Madrid Horse Week, I also carved  for the pictures Cinco Jotas used on the Christmas campaign 2019 and for the visual of the Men´s Health magazine

 As a professional, what makes a Cinco Jotas Ham so special for you?

 The 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham is the most wonderful gourmet product in the universe and it also has a sustainable and environmental value, linked to the pasture, incalculable. It is a pride to be able to carve  and transmit the value of these pieces that are a unique treasure in the world. Cinco Jotas is synonymous with respect for the product, united tradition and avant-garde, and attention to detail. Behind each piece is the meticulous work of many links for many years, we are another one who also has the honor of completing it, carving, explaining and seeing the final reaction of the consumers.

"  The 100% Iberian acorn-fed ham is the most wonderful gourmet product in the universe and it also has a sustainable and environmental value"

What advice would you give to other women who want to develop a position like yours?

The most important thing is adaptability, always having your suitcase packed, solutions for everything and a smile on your face. Carving  fine, straight, beautiful, fast ... all that is training and perseverance but everything behind, what is not seen is the most difficult to find because we forget that it is even more important. I advise them to train in all those areas apart from the carving,  marketing, administration, decision making, product culture, rhetoric…

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