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Turkish restaurateur (born 1983)

Nusret Gökçe

Salt Bae in 2018
Born 1983 (age 38–39)

Erzurum, Turkey
Nationality Turkish
Occupation Butcher, chef, restaurateur
Organization Nusr-Et
Known for Internet meme, luxury steak houses
Website wwwnusr-etcomtr

Nusret Gökçe (Turkish: ; born 1983), nicknamed Salt Bae, is a Turkish butcher, chef, food entertainer and restaurateur whose technique for preparing and seasoning meat became an Internet meme in January 2017

He owns Nusr-Et, a chain of luxury steak houses As of 2021, he has Nusr-Et branches in Turkey, Greece, the United States, the United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia The name of his restaurant chain comes from his own name and “Et”, which means “meat” in Turkish

Early life

Nusret Gökçe was born in Erzurum to a Kurdish family His father, Faik, was a mineworker The family’s finances forced him to leave school in the sixth grade (aged 11–12) to work as a butcher’s apprentice in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul

Restaurateur

A clip from the viral video

Gökçe visited several countries including Argentina and the United States between 2007 and 2010, where he worked in local restaurants for free, in order to gain experience as a cook and a restaurateur After his return to Turkey, Gökçe opened his first restaurant in Istanbul in 2010, and later opened a Dubai restaurant in 2014

In January 2017 he became more widely known as Salt Bae through a series of viral Internet videos and memes that show him “suavely” cutting meat and sprinkling salt, such as “Ottoman Steak”, posted on his restaurant’s Twitter account The post was viewed 10 million times on Instagram, after which he was dubbed “Salt Bae” due to his peculiar way of sprinkling salt: dropping it from his fingertips to his forearm, and then onto the dish Due to the viral exposure gained from this post, Gökçe’s profile has expanded enormously and he has served a wide range of celebrities and politicians from around the world

Reception

Despite the international fame, early professional reviews in 2018 of his New York City steakhouse were generally negative The New York Post's Steve Cuozzo called the restaurant “Public Rip-off No 1” and Joshua David Stein writing in GQ called the steak mundane and the hamburgers overcooked Other critics described the dishes as “over-salted as they are overpriced”, the “meat was tough with globs of fat and gristle, and severely lacking in flavor”, and that “finishing a meal there constitutes some kind of personal victory over your own body and instincts and mouth” Reviewers described the dining experience as “overpriced”

However, for entertainment, reviewers were more positive Eater's Robert Sietsema states, “If you are intent on judging New York’s new branch of Nusr-Et only as a steakhouse, you’ll probably be disappointed If, on the other hand, you appraise the place as dinner theater, you will find it satisfying—but only if Salt Bae is in the house”

Personal Life

Gökçe has been involved with charitable work, such as building a school in his hometown of Erzurum

Controversies

In December 2017, Gökçe was criticized for a photo taken in 2016 – in which he posed in front of a photo of former President Fidel Castro of Cuba

In September 2018, Czech internet personality Týnuš Třešničková became a victim of a failed fire show in the Nusr-Et steakhouse in Istanbul, resulting in 35% TBSA burns Several other guests also faced less serious body burns

That same month, Gökçe was criticized by US Senator Marco Rubio and the Miami city council after President Nicolás Maduro of Venezuela had a meal at his restaurant in Istanbul

In November 2019, four of Gökçe’s former employees accused him of getting a share of their tips They alleged that they were fired from his New York restaurant when they tried to ask questions about the tips A trial was set to take place to investigate the issue, until Gökçe reached a settlement with his former employees and paid them $230,000 Explaining why he had fired them, he said: “I was not satisfied with the performance of the four employees Since they were fired, they acted with the feeling of ‘look what we are going to do to you’ and put forward these tip allegations”

In late September 2020, his restaurant in Boston was ordered to close by public health officials several days after it opened due to violations of COVID-19 safety standards It reopened in early October

In October 2021, Gökçe came under scrutiny from the British media over a £37,000 bill for a meal at one of his UK restaurants

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