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Fabio Viviani, incontrovertibly the most charming of Top Chef contestants, ever, hates cilantro.

He doesn’t just casually hate it–as if that were possible–he really loathes the stuff: His secret dream is to “be filthy rich, grow 20 acre of cilantro, and drop a bomb on it.” He kids. I asked Fabio how hating cilantro has affected his life, he laughs in characteristic Fabio manner and says it hasn’t affected his life of course but then admits “People are having fun with me when I say I hate cilantro‚Ķ [It’s] something fun.”



Hating cilantro is so fun that he has banned the herb in his restaurant Cafe Firenze (though he is sure the Latino cooks (cilantro is popular in Mexican, Central and South American cuisine) prepare family meal with it in his absence as he finds it in the walk-in when he returns from a short vacation). Hating cilantro is so fun that he refused to help co-competitor and European compatriot Stefan Richter prepare his (losing) dish of salads and meat for the “Super Bowl Chef Showdown” episode. Come to think of it, not helping Stefan cook does sound sort of fun.

Fabio feels like he’s the only member of a club. “No way” I assured him. Please read the Wall Street Journal or check out IHateCilantro.com or Facebook or anything–you aren’t alone! He feels the herb tastes like soap, and there is a lot of support out there for that opinion.

I’m not the only one who has noticed that cilantro is everywhere. Fabio agrees and is not happy about its growing prevalence. While would-be fancy chefs find cilantro sophisticated, new and exciting–Fabio says it just wouldn’t happen in Italy: “It’s outlawed in Italy,” he jokes.

Once he and his (Italian) mother prepared meatballs and accidentally purchased cilantro (in the U.S.) instead of parsley–they look similar. Neither noticed the mistake until they tried them–they were both repulsed.

Erin: Does your mother not like cilantro either?
Fabio: No, she’s Italian.

While I have often argued that cilantro has no place anywhere, it certainly has no place in Italian cuisine: cilantro in pasta sauce? Please. I can imagine those meatballs must have been very terrible indeed.

Some people think we cilantro haters are just a winy group of crazies, or that we must just hate everything. Fabio admits he isn’t crazy about artificial cherry flavor, (clearly a man of good taste) but quickly goes for typically less-desired foods like rooster neck or bull’s testicles. Not a finicky eater, just a man who knows what he likes, and what he really fucking hates. (Fabio likes to use the word “fuck” by the way–this cilantro hater approves–am I gushing, how embarrassing. I’ll admit the company is nice).

So, what’s next for Fabio (he was robbed and told to “pack his knives and go” last week)? He’s cooking me an 8 course cilantro tasting menu at his restaurant Cafe Firenze, of course.

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