For celebrity chef and reality TV host Gabriele Bertaccini, the kitchen table is a place of sharing stories and bonding. So it’s very much within character that during the debut episode of the Netflix wedding-planner show Say I Do, while cooking with groom-to-be Marcus LaCour, chef Bertaccini disclosed he is living with HIV.
LaCour had opened up about his own diabetes diagnosis and how it affected his health and mental outlook. In turn, Bertaccini said he understood how a life-changing diagnosis can depress and scare you—and that he had this insight because he was HIV positive.
LaCour responded with compassion and support, adding that he had never met a person with HIV before.
Originally from Italy and located in Los Angeles, Bertaccini—self-described as “a little crazy, who likes to cook and has tattoos all over”—spoke with LGBT advocacy group GLAAD about the new reality show and the importance of sharing your HIV status. (You can watch the interview by clicking the image at the top of this article.)
“The show is about love, vulnerability, resiliency and hope,” Bertaccini told GLAAD’s Anthony Ramos. “Those are words that resonated with me when I got my HIV diagnosis years ago.”
Bertaccini, 35, cohosts Say I Do with interior designer Jeremiah Brent and fashion designer Thai Nguyen. All three hosts are gay men—think Queer Eye for the surprise wedding. (Watch a trailer for the series, which debuted this month, above.)
In his GLAAD interview, Bertaccini recounted his own HIV diagnosis and said he was lucky to have an older roommate at the time who happened to be HIV positive and who offered support through the challenging period. Bertaccini noted that despite all the medical advances made the past 30 to 40 years regarding HIV, the one area that has failed to improve is the stigma of living with the virus.
“I’m so thankful that the support…I had was one that allowed me to move forward in a healthy way that made me understand this wasn’t something that marked me and made me less than what I was before,” Bertaccini said. “We have to make sure this support…is available for everyone who goes through that.”