Rebecca Castañeda stepped into 2018 and was, almost immediately, introduced to the dizzying world of viral fame when, on January 3rd, she posted a video to her Twitter account of a chef named Rogelio chopping an enormous bushel of cilantro in her family’s California restaurant, El Camino Real. Since, the video has garnered over three million views, drummed up a considerable conversation on Twitter, dazzled hordes of viewers, and catapulted Rogelio, the cilantro chopping champion, into the annals of digital stardom.
But the notoriety does not come without merit, Rogelio’s form is nothing short of exquisite: With one hand he confidently grabs a cilantro bushel that appears almost a thousand stalks wide, while the other hand, wielding an intensely sharp knife, makes brusk, deft cuts, slicing at a variety of angles. He works from stalk end to leaf end until nothing is left but a tiny mountain of freshly minced cilantro. The biting, earthy smell practically wafts off the screen.
Castañeda recorded the video in the kitchen of her family’s restaurant in Fullerton, California and posted it to Snapchat, but after receiving some positive responses, she reposted a longer version of the video to her Twitter. It was there that the video took off. She followed the original up with a sequel, this time Rogelio fills a thigh-high stock pot with freshly cut cilantro. The sheer amount is dazzling.
Castañeda’s parents opened El Camino Real in 1993, and while they’ve enjoyed considerable brushes with fame—including regular visits from Kobe Bryant—none rival this moment of viral fanfare. The internet, as it does, reacted with fervor to Rogelio’s two-minute routine. In addition to a skyrocketing view count, the tweet has upwards of 60,000 retweets and a slurry of comical responses.
Some posit that Rogelio is this 2018's #SaltBae, a culinary phenom for a new year. Could this be true? Does it even matter? Who knows. Regardless, it's fun to watch a twenty-year-old family-owned business receive the attention it deserves for serving Mexican food with supreme technique.
Know of any local restaurants the internet should be paying more attention to? Let us know about them in the comments.