Salt Bae

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Nusret Gökçe
Salt Bae.png
Born1983
NationalityTurkish
OccupationChef, Restaurateur
OrganizationNusr-Et
Known forLuxury steak houses
Websitehttps://www.nusr-et.com.tr/en/home.aspx

Nusret Gökçe (Turkish pronunciation: [nusˈɾet ɟœcˈtʃe]), nicknamed Salt Bae, is a Turkish 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 Ankara, Bodrum, Istanbul and Marmaris in Turkey; Mykonos in Greece; Miami, New York, Boston, Dallas, and Beverly Hills in the United States; London in the United Kingdom; Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates; Doha in Qatar; and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia. The name of his restaurant chain comes from his own name and "Et", which means "meat" in Turkish.

Early life[edit]

Gökçe was born in Erzurum, Turkey to a Kurdish family.[1] His father was a mineworker. The family's finances forced him to leave school in the 6th grade (aged 11-12) to work as a butcher's apprentice in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul.[2]

Gökçe has been involved with charitable work, such as building a school in his hometown of Erzurum.[3]

Restaurateur[edit]

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.[2] After his return to Turkey, Gökçe opened his first restaurant in Istanbul in 2010[4] and later opened a Dubai restaurant in 2014.[5]

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,[6] such as "Ottoman Steak", posted on his restaurant's Twitter account.[7] 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.[6] 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.[8][9]

Reception[edit]

Despite the international fame, early professional reviews in 2018 of his New York City steakhouse were generally negative.[10][11] 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.[10] Other critics described the dishes as "over-salted as they are overpriced",[12] the "meat was tough with globs of fat and gristle, and severely lacking in flavor",[13] and that "finishing a meal there constitutes some kind of personal victory over your own body and instincts and mouth".[14] Reviewers described the dining experience as "overpriced".[9][15]

However, for entertainment, reviewers were more positive.[16] 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".[16]

Issues[edit]

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."[17]

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.[18] It reopened in early October.[19]

In October 2021, Gökçe was hit with scrutiny by the British over a £37,000 bill for a meal at one of his UK restaurants, which caused a customer to react with outrage.[20][21]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Rudaw, Nusret'in ailesiyle röportaj yaptı". Ensonhaber.com. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 7 August 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Nusret hayat hikayesi". Aksam.com.tr. Archived from the original on 17 February 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  3. ^ "Nusret Gökçe, külliyeden sonra şimdi de okul yaptırıyor köyüne". Posta.com.tr. Archived from the original on 23 January 2019. Retrieved 12 February 2019.
  4. ^ "Nusret Gökçe kimdir?". Hurriyet.com.tr. Archived from the original on 20 March 2018. Retrieved 20 March 2018.
  5. ^ "Nusret restaurant to open at Four Seasons Dubai - What's On". What's On Dubai. 11 November 2014. Archived from the original on 6 April 2018. Retrieved 6 April 2018.
  6. ^ a b "Nusr-Et Home". Nusr-Et. 6 February 2017. Archived from the original on 6 June 2021. Retrieved 6 June 2021.
  7. ^ "Instagram post by Nusr_et#Saltbae • Jan 7, 2017 at 10:44am UTC". Instagram. Archived from the original on 17 April 2017. Retrieved 12 April 2017.
  8. ^ 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.
  9. ^ a b Del Valle, Gaby (20 September 2018). "Why is Marco Rubio tweeting about Salt Bae?". Vox. Archived from the original on 3 October 2018. Retrieved 3 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b Salt Bae Officially Goes Too Far Archived 30 June 2018 at the Wayback Machine Clint Rainey, 25 January 2018
  11. ^ "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
  12. ^ "You created Salt Bae, and now you have to eat his nasty food". Time Out. 6 February 2018.
  13. ^ "My Disappointing Meal at Salt Bae's NYC Restaurant Cost $1,400". www.observer.com. 26 January 2018.
  14. ^ "The Salt Bae Guy Has A New Restaurant In New York. It's Not Good". www.buzzfeednews.com. 2 March 2020.
  15. ^ 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
  16. ^ a b 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.
  17. ^ "'Salt bae' denies accusation of taking share of employees' tips". Hürriyet Daily News. Istanbul. 12 November 2019. Retrieved 12 November 2019.
  18. ^ "Restaurant opened by 'Salt Bae' in Boston closed for virus violations | Boston.com". www.boston.com. Retrieved 28 September 2020.
  19. ^ Kuschner, Erin (1 October 2020). "Salt Bae's restaurant has reopened. Here's what to know about its first two weeks in business". Boston.com. Retrieved 29 October 2020.
  20. ^ Cooper, Leonie. "Salt Bae scandal: £37k bills & (allegedly!) deleting bad reviews". Time Out London. Retrieved 15 October 2021.
  21. ^ Gregory, Ruby; Tesia, Ria; Ford, Gregory (15 October 2021). "Eye-watering £37k bill for steak and chips at posh restaurant". HullLive. Retrieved 15 October 2021.

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