The Galician couple that sells their 'signature' legumes to the best chefs and the one that Inditex saved in the pandemic

Jose Iglesias and Luca Calvo opened the Luxury Pantry six years ago. Today their peas, beans and lentils are eaten at Celler de Can Roca, Mugaritz and Dani Garca. Pampering the land is its maximum

Luca Calvo, yesterday, at the Despensa d’lujo estate.

The day Inditex knocked on his door, Jose Manuel Iglesias (37) was working his land. It was Thursday, after 10.30 am. “They told me they wanted to see me and I told them I couldn’t that day, that I was very busy.” The meeting was held on Friday at the headquarters of the textile group, which is just 12 kilometers from its farm, “and go out with the contract under your arm“He remembers. They had known their ‘signature’ vegetables on Facebook, according to this Galician farmer, and they wanted them for the employees’ dining rooms.” They have one of 2,200 people, another of 1,400 and a third of 500. ”

We entered the Luxury pantry, in the council of Coristanco, in A Corua, territory where Jose and Luca Calvo (39), his wife, pamper their lands as their parents and grandparents did. Innovation and sustainability have found the balance in the almost six hectares they have of land. “There is work here every day of the year. We sell everything we grow; the more we grow, the more we sell“says Jose. To give a figure, per year they collect more than 1,200 kilos of peas.

Purple bean.
Purple bean.

They started their project six years ago and have achieved jump the queue in the kitchens of the best restaurants in our country: from Celler de Can Roca to Mugaritz through those of Ricard Camarena, Ivn Domnguez, Dani Garca, Begoa Fraire … “Word of mouth has been everything for us“.

Beans, beans, chickpeas, quinoa, peas, corn, pink and black beans, rice, lentils … “we have more than 35 references at the moment,” he says on the other side of the phone. Since they started they wanted to go one step further. “You have to read a lot and practice more. The more mistakes you make, the more you learn,” explains Jose humbly.

The first challenge they accepted came from the hands of three Basque chefs. “We tested more than 30 chickpeas until we found the one they wanted. And since then, R&D has only grown in the business. They have a project with the CSIC and another with the Basque Culinary Center in their hands.

Among the maxims of Jose and Luca is the take good care of the earth: “As you treat her, she will treat you.” They do not use chemicals and when they are badly given they turn off well. “Last year we had aphids on a bean farm and I bought ladybugs to kill it.” It is about protecting biodiversity. “I eat peas or chickpeas in the field and I know there is no risk.” Jose’s head is always active. They started with potatoes – they are also very famous – and chickpeas, and the list has not stopped growing. “A year ago, the Roca brothers asked us for a kilo of all our references.” They have become regulars; as is Alberto Chicote.

chickpea Pedro Sillano.
chickpea Pedro Sillano.

The pandemic has been a litmus test for them. With the restaurants closed, it was necessary to find alternative outlets. “Inditex did not stop and that saved us. It is our most important client right now. We have a plot of green chickpea just for them, for example.” After starting to supply their Arteixo 360 dining room, which like them defends a sustainable and proximity model, other clients have emerged, such as schools and residences. “Before the pandemic, the idea was to expand and also serve the company’s dining rooms in Barcelona and Zaragoza, but everything stopped.”

The web has been the other showcase to get ahead, especially to reach individuals. A year, Jose says, they do about eight harvests. “We do not sell in supermarkets; at the moment we are not interested“They have made very tempting offers, but they are not considering it yet.” We want to control the entire process, from when we plant until it reaches the hands of a cook or a private individual. “

Jose speaks slowly and with a strong Galician accent. You don’t want to pose for photos; He leaves the leading role to Luca. “Now we are preparing an agrotourism,” he says excitedly. And he finds time to feed the social networks, which he manages himself, as he also created “in three weeks at times at night” the first website of the house. With the confinement, they added online sales for individuals. “One day they asked us from a street in La Moraleja (Madrid) and, two days after delivering the merchandise, we received a lot of orders from the same street.” Always word of mouth.

Address: Ribeiro, Erbecedo, 13, 15147 (A Corua). Prices: green chickpeas, 90 euros / kg: peas, 30 euros / kg; pochas, 20 euros / kg

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