Nusret Gökçe ([nusˈɾet ɟøcˈtʃe], born in 1983), nicknamed Salt Bae, is a Turkish butcher, chef, and restaurateur, who owns Nusr-Et, a chain of steak houses. His technique for preparing and seasoning meat became an Internet meme.
Gökçe in 2018
1983 (age 35–36)
Gökçe was born in Erzurum, Turkey, to a Kurdish family. His father was a mineworker. The family's finances forced him to leave school in the 6th grade to work as a butcher's apprentice in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul.
Gökçe has been heavily involved with lots of charitable work. One example includes how he built a school in his hometown of Erzurum.
Salt Bae memeEdit
Gökçe became more widely known through a series of viral Internet videos and memes from January 2017 which show him "suavely" cutting meat and sprinkling salt.
His fame came from a viral video, "Ottoman Steak", posted on 7 January 2017 on his restaurant's Twitter account. It was viewed 10 million times on Instagram, after which he was dubbed "Salt Bae" because of his peculiar way of sprinkling salt: dropping it from his fingertips to his forearm, and then falling 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.
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.
The dishes served at Gökçe's establishments have received mixed reviews and have been described as "overpriced". 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 wrote in GQ called the steak mundane and the hamburgers overcooked. However, from an entertainment standpoint, reviews 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".
In December 2017, he received criticism for a 2016 photo posing in front of an image of Fidel Castro. In September 2018, Gökçe received further criticism after president of Venezuela Nicolás Maduro visited and ate at Gökçe's Istanbul restaurant, stemming from perceived insensitivity to the crisis and shortages in Venezuela.
As of 2019[update], Nusr-Et has branches in Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Doha in Qatar; Ankara, Bodrum, Istanbul and Marmaris in Turkey; Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Mykonos in Greece; Miami and New York in the US.
In November 2019, four of Gökçe's former employees accused him of getting a share of their tips. They added 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, before which Gökçe reached a settlement with his former employees and paid them $230,000. As to 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."
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- Tsuji, Alysha (14 February 2017). "Simone Biles happily had food seasoned by 'the one and only' Salt Bae at Laureus Awards". USA Today. Archived from the original on 1 April 2019. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
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- Salt Bae Could Be Planting His Second NYC Restaurant Near Union Square Archived 19 December 2018 at the Wayback Machine Carla Vianna, Eater, 18 December 2018
- Salt Bae Officially Goes Too Far Archived 30 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine Clint Rainey, 25 January 2018
- Reviews Trash Salt Bae's New Restaurant, Calls His Food ‘Bland and Boring’ Archived 28 January 2018 at the Wayback Machine Complex, Sajae Elder, 26 January 2018
- Burton, Monica (6 February 2018). "What the Critics Are Saying About Salt Bae's NYC Restaurant". Eater. Archived from the original on 4 October 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- 'Salt Bae' restaurateur slammed for Fidel Castro impersonation photo Archived 6 December 2017 at the Wayback Machine Michael Bartiromo, Fox News, 12 May 2017
- Ma, Alexandra (18 September 2018). "Venezuela's president ate steak at Salt Bae's restaurant while people in his country are starving". Business Insider. Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
- "Venezuelans outraged by Maduro's steak feast at Salt Bae restaurant". Reuters. Archived from the original on 18 September 2018. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
- Mackintosh, Eliza; Gallón, Natalie (19 September 2018). "Maduro dines on pricey 'Salt Bae' steaks as Venezuelans starve". CNN. Archived from the original on 27 September 2018. Retrieved 27 September 2018.
- Haag, Matthew (18 September 2018). "Salt Bae Serves Maduro as Venezuela Suffers". The New York Times. Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 5 December 2019.
- "'It's a disgrace:' Miami lawmakers condemn 'Salt Bae' over serving Venezuela's Maduro". The Miami Herald. 27 September 2018. Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 2 October 2018.
- "'Salt bae' denies accusation of taking share of employees' tips". Hürriyet Daily News. Istanbul. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.