The Video of a Man Chopping Cilantro We Can't Stop Watching

July 27, 2018

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.

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This article originally appeared in January 2018, but we're bringing it back because everyone could use a little Rogelio now and again.

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • nancy
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  • Daniel Halley
    Daniel Halley
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  • MamaMary1
Valerio is a freelance food writer, editor, researcher and cook. He grew up in his parent's Italian restaurants covered in pizza flour and drinking a Shirley Temple a day. Since, he's worked as a cheesemonger in New York City and a paella instructor in Barcelona. He now lives in Berlin, Germany where he's most likely to be found eating shawarma.


nancy January 9, 2019
I was mesmerized watching this guy! To be able to cut cilantro like this requires a lot of skill and practice. It was really satisfying seeing the completed product: nice, evenly cut cilantro. If I ever need a thousand stalks of cilantro cut for an unforeseeable even, I'd better call Rogelio!
jenniebgood August 1, 2018
I want to know how this guy keeps his knife so sharp! I can never get my knives that sharp!
Daniel H. May 15, 2018
Oddly Satisfying but not as satisfying as the Artichoke Choppers. Plus, Cilantro is not my favorite herb.
FrugalCat February 17, 2018
My husband and I were at a restaurant, sitting at the bar having a drink. We could see into the kitchen, where for an hour, a cook did nothing but chop parsley. This was not a restaurant with tabbouli on the menu. Chop, chop, chop. Very soothing.
MamaMary1 February 6, 2018
That's some Amazing Skill, Right There ❣
And as far as the people, with comments like ,
" it should be something more exciting, or that Folks commenting here, should get that excited about books"????
This is ☆Food52☆ !!!
go to a "book" site, if you want excitement about books!!???
I'd Bet, You couldn't go into His Kitchen, and Do What He Does!!
it's a Great Skill, and NOT an Easy One💜
Thank You So Much, for the Wonderful Videos !!♡♡
MAJ February 4, 2018
where is the video???
maggie January 12, 2018
Huh? How is everyone else doing it? I didn’t know there was another way.
suzygregory January 11, 2018
Valerio, can you find out what kind of knife that is? I don't have Twitter, or I would ask Rebecca myself. Maybe Food52 can carry it??? :)
mikeh3k January 12, 2018
Regular kitchen chef's 10 inch knife. About $13.00. Not some fancy $100+ one.
In the end Mexico chef's really rein supreme in all matters of food.
John C. September 10, 2018
Maybe a Dexter Russell Basics? Just a cheap workhorse, but it's a chef's knife: curved blade, no serration, 8+ inches, comes to a point.

Past that, it's all in the handling and care. Don't leave it wet, don't drag it across the board, do use a board, make proper slices (a rounded forward motion that follows the curve of the blade and ends with the flat part down on the board), don't just toss in a drawer. That all will prevent dulling.

Use a honing steel often. When a little bit of honing feels ineffective or doesn't "last long," the knife is starting to need real sharpening.

The ceramic-disc-type sharpeners, whether electric or manual, do too crude of a job for a knife you plan on cooking with. Any town with restaurants will also have a pro who sharpens knives... use them; it's a cheap service that you won't need often. You can also practice with a whestone, but for the $5, I'd rather let someone else handle it.

Side note: Rogelio also holds it with the proper pinch grip and keeps the fingers of his other hand curled back. That's the right method, and using it leads to confidence which in turn leads to speed. I was surprised when, after a month or so of proper technique, not only did my prepping get faster and more uniform, but my 8-inch knife started to feel "small."
Molly F. January 11, 2018
I loved this video and I love the comments. Wow! This guy knows his way around knife.
Susanna January 11, 2018
That guy has some serious skills. I wonder when the cilantro gets washed, though? Certainly not when it’s that dense before being chopped. I hope it is washed later.
Annette January 11, 2018
I bet it was somehow washed previously. It is usually very sandy. I really don't know though.
Joan F. January 12, 2018
I wash mine in cold clear water first then spread it out on paper to dry before I chop it. Course no way near as fast...or in such quantity.
Ursula |. January 13, 2018
Honestly, I think a lot of herbs never get rinsed at restaurants. When they are wet, they stick together so they would need to get rinsed & dried before chopping. Not gonna happen... :-(((
Connie T. January 11, 2018
When I got the tickler for this video, I was expecting six-pack abs or something. Cilantro? That's like mom washing my mouth out with soap 'cause I uttered a curse word. LOL
Eileen July 30, 2018
It's genetic, you know. There is a gene that determines whether you love or hate cilantro. People who hate it are not tasting all the flavors. Apparently one of the flavors is soapy, and if you don't taste all the other flavors, the soapy flavor stands out.
Heidi January 11, 2018
Impressive! I have trouble chopping just a 1/4 cut.
rj January 11, 2018
Oy vey. If only people got this excited about books. Fine work, but hardly extraordinary.
txgreyhound January 11, 2018
Sort of mesmerizing. The right knife is a must!
Leith D. January 11, 2018
Now that's a knife. Amazing how he keeps it on the cutting board. It would be all over the floor at my house!
Joan F. January 11, 2018
I could do that...if you wouldn't mind a few finger tips mixed in....
Rob B. January 11, 2018
This man should find another job, possibly chopping parsley since the evil weed Cilantro should be banned! I guess he could dice soap too.
Annette January 11, 2018
Sharpest knife EVER
smosann January 11, 2018
Rogelio ought to be teaching knife skills!
BARBARA M. January 11, 2018
I wish I lived there where the cilantro grows so beautifully lush and green and probably smelling as fresh as fresh can be. Watching the video makes me wish for spring. But no such luck. I live in Canada where it is minus 35 right now and I get to buy watery, limp, barely passable cilantro stalks with a few measly leaves. But then, I guess we have lots of fresh water and the ground is blanketed with metres of snow and we do have the northern lights and Justin Trudeau. But no fresh cilantro.