Those new service sector jobs, supply and demand Spanish ham slicing edition

The 55-year-old is regarded as the world’s best ham slicer in the world, and he charges accordingly for his services – a reported $4,000 to slice a leg of ham.

Floren, as he likes to be called, has sliced ham for a number of celebrities, including President Barack Obama, Robert De Niro, or David Beckham, and for his majesty King Juan Carlos of Spain. He has performed his jamon-slicing art at the Oscars, Hollywood private parties and at casinos in Las Vegas and Macau. Throughout the year, he follows the Formula 1 circuit, cutting ham for VIPs in the paddocks and lounges of the top racing teams.

Slicing machines are apparently out of the question, as far as jamon enthusiasts are concerned, as heat generated by the friction can alter the taste of the ham and melt the fat, thus ruining the whole experience. But while professional ham slicers are present at any decent cocktail party or event in Spain, they usually make around $250 per ham leg. That’s not nearly enough for them to make a living, which is why most of them have multiple jobs. Florencio Sanchidrián, on the other hand, charges around $4,000 for cutting a leg of ham, a process that takes him around an hour and a half to complete.


And this:

 “I think it is quite wrong for a ham cutter speak English,” he says.

Here is the full story, and for the pointer I thank the estimable Chug.


The best ham I've ever had has been Spanish. No doubt he slices the best of that. As for his services: willing seller, willing buyer: who can complain?

"Who can complain?"

See prostitution.

But are those against prostitution complaining about the price?


I see what younmean

Snobs screw any model. You can't model a market designed for snobs...

I guess if he's cutting for Obama then I'm the buyer. I wasn't willing though

'“I think it is quite wrong for a ham cutter speak English,” he says.'

Thankfully, Google can solve that problem for him.

He can cut the ham, I can cut the cheese. But I don't charge $4000 for it. Maybe you can deem his services performance art?

"The 55-year-old is regarded as the world’s best ham slicer in the world, and he charges accordingly for his services – a reported $4,000 to slice a leg of ham."

I am pretty sure I could do better if I cared about ham.

Do you care about money?

Not much. Caring about money is antithetical to the Brazilian character.

Kind of like hiring a lawyer, only this guy does something useful.

Classic example of demand objectivity vs. subjectivity. Is what he does actually worth $4000? No. Is what everyone says he does worth $4000? Absolutely. Objective standard to be tested against? No.

The people paying $4000 are paying for reputation, not ham slicing. $250 for ham, $3750 for prestige. Things like this always fall apart in double-blind testing. Oohs and aahs at the party, "This is the BEST HAM EVER," but in the double-blind they'd award the prize to ham slice by Franco from South Bronx who cut the ham for $50.

Btw it is also much the same for wine. The more you know...

$250? Take into account the ham piece is between 7-8 kilos. This ham being around $100-120 per kilo yields $700-1000 for the whole piece. They pay for reputation of Mr. Cutter and the AOC/APO Jamón Ibérico.

I think EverExtruder is referring to the line "they usually make around $250 per ham leg"

Thank you Scott. Correction:

"$250 for ham 'slicing'"

I'm well aware some Spanish and Iberian hams are super expensive, and I get that for such an expensive delicacy you wouldn't want it ruined by poor preparation. I'm talking about the economics of diminishing returns regarding a product or service and the point at which it ceases to become payment for the actual service and payment for something else entirely, such as reputation, prestige, image or cache.

I can imagine a scenario where this specific service (ham slicing) is actually worth $1000. Beyond that you are no longer paying for ham slicing. However, that is my subjective opinion...due in large part that I would not...and could not pay that much for this service.

The question is what is the price of the 2nd or third best ham slicer, that might tell us how good a deal he is offering.

I think you are right which is why these kind of high paying jobs are not scalable. How much room is there for celebrity ham slicers? Instead of being a veblen good, it is a veblen service. The elite always needs something to distinguish themselves as the elite. What that is always changes because whenever the hoi polloi can buy such gadgets or services themselves, by definition the elite needs to find something else that can distinguish them. Right now, it is celebrity ham slicing. Tomorrow it will be celebrity masseurs for their poodles and the day after celebrity cheese graters. The minute Floren no longer commands celebrity status for any reason, his fees will decline toward the mean (although I am sure he will still command some kind of premium for his services).

Maybe he can cash in by offering ham-slicing classes at Trump U.?

Totally agree this is an elitist service. This is totally subjective and I'll probably be pilloried in the comments but I feel I have to say it:

I believe that there are objectively moral and objectively good ways for elites to showcase their status and their wealth and place themselves above the "hoi polloi".

In the early days of the U.S. and for a long time in Europe and in other more ancient civilizations there was a concept of "articles of virtue". Symbols, items, works (both large and small), art and rarities that served to showcase not just by their expense but by their true uniqueness, beauty, symbolism or other qualities that the owner was not just wealthy but also perhaps more virtuous and therefore by default better than most everyone else.

Collection of "articles of virtue" have given us the renaissance greats, well-known pieces of classical music, symbols of power and prestige contained in the lineages of Europe's great monarchical families, and great works of literature to include the translation of the Bible and other holy books into the "vulgar" tongue. Moreover, the rise and democratization of many societies has allowed the ownership of these fine things to pass to the public domain for the enjoyment of everyone, not just the elites, because their true value is fundamentally and OBJECTIVELY enclosed within them, not in the purchasing power of their former owners. It doesn't just provide status, it provides legacy long after they and those in their circle that appreciated them have died.

This is the problem I have with ham slicing, Porsche Spyder 918s, or multi-million dollar private parties with Jay Z and Beyoncé and ludicrous vanity properties. None of these things provides any legacy not really. There is nothing to pass down. Nothing that is capable of being enjoyed beyond the moment it is presented or that it is pleasurable. Nothing that actually speaks to a unique taste or capability to understand something even above their peers. They are a façade of wealth to be owned and enjoyed usually by moneyed individuals who in reality have extremely poor taste (pun intended) in hams as they do works of art. They don't know what good taste is. They don't know what good art is. They only know what the other 40 millionaires who said such and such about so and so thought about what they're enjoying.

The live in a very wealthy ghetto.

So, the patrons of Leonardo da Vinci spent all the money on castles, glass objects, gold, neither superb food and wine, no mistresses. Rich people before were practically monks supporting good art.

"Btw it is also much the same for wine. The more you know…"

You don't know anything. Especially about wine.

The law of diminishing value and diminishing returns absolutely applies to wine...

You're daft.

In blind tastings, wine experts are wildly inconsistent with how they rank high-end wines. See here:

Google Giffen good, Veblin good, etc and then see if you agree that Franco would win. The whole idea is to signal to society that you, the ham cutter buyer, is wealthy, not unlike in a wasteful Pacific northwest potlatch. There was even a store in Beverly Hills back in the 80s (maybe still around) whose claim to fame is that they only sold the most expensive clothes, watches, etc. Actually the same might be said about Prada bags today, etc, but I'm not sure about their resale value (maybe they hold up in value? My new BMW surprisingly held up nicely when I sold it back to the dealer).

The wastefulness of Potlatch is greatly overstated, especially if you know much about PNW indians.

These were highly stratified societies with vast differences in wealth. The were aristocratic republics, more similar to pre Viking Scandinavia and not the "big man" societies that anthropologists ignorant of PNW societies imagine. Potlatch in its purest form was quite similar to a feudal or early modern lord offering a feast to gain popularity and prestige, but most recorded potlatches were actually something else. They werre held by major merchants at key times in the trading year and they appear to be most elaborate a trade chokepoints such as The Dalles on the Columbia River which controlled trade from the Rockies, interior plateaus and even further and Pacific Coast societies. They may have even been a way of keeping groups of much poorer indians on the plateau from allowing merchants to develop competive trade routes.

I suspect rather they are paying for a very elaborate performance in person.

These so-called high-paying service sector jobs - groom valets, bridesmaids for rent, ham slicers - are all outliers. These narratives tell us nothing about the larger impact of globalization, automation, AI, and the flow of money to capital that is killing, yes killing, the middle class. See the declining lifespan data. Soon we will have the rich and their servants and that's it. I think the recent election is telling us the people don't like it.

And the servants will also be rich.

Regarding decreasing lifespan - you're not talking about the recent data that shows a *small* downturn in lifespan among Americans, after decades of increase are you?

'Impacts of globalization' - you mean like increased food security and redundancy to protect against local disasters? Like bringing the greatest increase in quality of life to people across the world - over the rest of human history combined?

Automation, AI are all increasing wealth by making *everyone* more efficient. We get the same amount of stuff with fewer inputs - and that includes labor. Then those people go out and do other things. You are, literally, decrying the existence of the automobile because it but buggy-whip makers, drovers, and others dependent on servicing horse-drawn vehicles out of business despite the *clear* evidence that that changeover was a net increase in wealth for humanity as a whole.

You're basically saying that, for the benefit of a small group of special people, we should freeze and progress here in case that group is inconvenienced in any way.

The automobile isn't a good example. Its negative externalities are too significant and obvious. It's only been around in numbers for less than an hundred years but has dramatically changed the appearance of the country, the economy, and the attitudes of society in a great number of ways. In the future, those whose minds will occasionally wander from contemplating the disaster of global climate change will wonder how travel from point A to point B required a culture that worships the automobile.

Yeah, cars are totally useless


"You're basically saying..."

No, I said what I said, which triggered a cognitive cascade in your brain.

The shocks to the system, as described by TC and AT at MRU, create structural unemployment that has health consequences, including increased mortality. The happy talk about service jobs is an attempt to imply that the lost employment has been replaced - it hasn't. We could choose to do nothing, but we have elections, and elections have consequences.

Nope. Where is your fantasy "structural unemployment"?

Speaking of "Outlier," the notion that lifespan is declining is questionable to say the least, nor is this news.

But, yes, in paying $4000 for Inigo Montoya to carve their $100/lb ham, Gluttony begets Envy and Wrath. Avoid this trap.

Ah, but Inigo can cut it with his LEFT HAND!

My name is Inigo Montoya

You sliced my ham

Prepare to die

This is why I read MR!

>including President Barack Obama

Why does that not surprise me?

Suck it, US taxpayers!

ha ha, yeahhhhhh

That isn't the right way to read that sentence

Pretty sure he went to a party like GW Bush did:

Shh..How dare you? Thou shall only complain when a leftist does anything...Haven't you read any of tea party/Trump party hypocrisy memo in past few years?

Those guys bad! My guys good!

Isn't it the case that US presidents have to pay for the food? Pretty certain I heard a white house chef say that in an interview.

Inequality such that people have nothing better to do with their money than pay staggering prices for the obvious fiction that this ham slicing is somehow distinguishable from any other ham slicing is efficient.
But let's talk about dead weight losses endlessly.

Two countries this person will not find any business, Cuba and Venezuela!

The money is not lost, it just goes to this guy who spends it on something else. Why do you object to transferring wealth from billionaires to this dude?

I was about to make a stink. But then I remembered insisting on having my cataracts done by an $800k/yr surgeon with 20+ years of schooling. All when a relatively dextrous car mechanic with a high school degree and 3 months of training on the procedure would have been fine.

You probably overpaid. My Greek octogenarian uncle had cataracts done for a pittance by a semi-competent Greek surgeon. It's a simple procedure. Not sure what material they left inside the eye, it may have been some cheap Chinese knockoff of the original Bausch + Lomb polymer lenses, but they got the job done, no infection, and he can see fine. But if you want to be 'dead sure' rather than 'dead' (or really for peace of mind) then by all means hire 'the best' and fly him to your home town, pay a premium, etc.

How about Salma Hayek cutting it naked? 4 grand sound a little more reasonable?

She's gotta wear at least a bikini bottom though, because hygiene. I wouldn't want Florencio cutting my ham naked even if I didn't have to watch.

His last comment makes me hope that someone can invent a machine to put him out of business.

File under "It's the sizzle that sells the steak".

I charge my wife $8 to slice the ham.

this is just silly

I don't buy the sob story: "they usually make around $250 per ham leg. That’s not nearly enough for them to make a living, which is why most of them have multiple jobs"

1. Many Spanish consider themselves lucky to have one job, let alone two.
2. Consider they only work one party a week. They're earning more than the Spanish monthly minimum wage and enough to "make a living".
3. They then have 165 hours of free time in the rest of the week. Most are going to use some of that time to generate extra income whether they were earning $250 a week or $2,500 a week.

Another instance of europe's remarkable talent for 'emperor has no clothes' self-promotion. swiss chocolates, french perfume .. blahhhh. would be an interesting economic analysis to see what percent of europe earns its living selling ridiculously overpriced crap by engineering in some european je ne sais quoi

Wow, it’s unbelievable. I believe skill is always the most important part of things. If we have skills then everything else too is going to work brightly, but without skills we will always find it harder to manage. I trade with OctaFX broker and with them, I always find it ever easy because of the educational setup that helps and furthermore, it’s demo contest through which I can learn so well and able to win prizes too which makes me like it so much.

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