Nusret Gökçe was a simple butcher until he became a viral internet hit as an extravagant “salt shaker”. Millions saw his videos in which he, as “Salt Bae”, always sprinkled meat with salt in the same manner, his arm at a 45 degree angle, his hand bent towards the bird’s beak and his pointed fingers. Laughed at by some, made into an icon, copied and caricatured by others, his name quickly became a brand. It turned out that the Turk is not only good at putting himself in the spotlight, but also at gilding his unexpected internet fame in the truest sense of the word.

Salt Bae quickly opened more than 20 restaurants around the world, including in Turkey, Dubai and Great Britain. Hollywood stars and football heroes, A to F celebrities, eat with him. His menu is aimed at big money and quite obviously. The steaks offered there are particularly popular and are covered with 24-carat gold leaf – the more enjoyable equivalent of burning money, so to speak. Gökçe entices with extravagance, decadence and scope and is not afraid to show off his signature move over and over again to anyone who wants to see it. He likes to mimic the salt shaker in human form for high-profile videos and pictures. But this kind of show isn’t cheap.

Footballer Franck Ribéry was one of the first to be served a gold-plated steak in Dubai. He is said to have paid the equivalent of 1,200 euros for the gold piece. The images went around the world and caused outrage because of their decadence. Among other things, a so-called tomahawk steak is also available for around 700 euros, which is comparatively cheap. The gold-plated baklava, also a house specialty, is available for around 60 euros. Gökçe advertises that his guests will “dine more luxuriously than ever before.” He guarantees his guests an exquisite menu, overwhelming smells, incredible shows.

Evil tongues, however, claim that he turns shit into gold. A claim that restaurant reviews tend to fuel rather than refute. A gastro critic from “The Telegraph”, for example, called the tuna tart on offer there “inexcusable”. On Tripadvisor you can read comments like “Once and never again” or “Very bad. Everything”. But that doesn’t stop the run on the restaurant.

His Nusr-Et Steakhouse in London alone generates millions in sales, and the trend continues to rise. The London restaurant is said to have generated sales of more than eight million euros in its first four months of existence in 2021, and in 2022 sales are said to have totaled around 15.8 million euros, as “The Telegraph” reports. And this despite the fact that for many people money is becoming increasingly scarce due to inflation and the like, and other restaurateurs are stumbling more and more. For example, the restaurant group of established celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay is said to have made a pre-tax loss of more than 1.7 million euros in the same period.

Salt Bae’s business continues to grow almost unabated. The steakhouses appeal to an audience that is not afraid to spend money, a lot of money. So far the concept is working. But Salt Bae wants more. A lunch menu is now offered for people who are less well off. That costs just under 60 euros. He had to close his restaurant in Manhattan due to bad reviews, but in the overall picture of his gastronomic empire this is a negligible setback.

His streak of success does not stop, and even controversial actions by Nusret Gökçe have not been able to change that. On the contrary. When Salt Bae drew the ire of many fans by grabbing and posing with the trophy after the World Cup final, it only resulted in one thing – more followers, more fame. He himself said afterwards: “Two billion people saw the World Cup final. And how many people talked about me afterwards? Five billion. The whole world.” Salt Bae is now followed by almost 54 million people on Instagram.

Quelle: The Telegraph, Tripadvisor, The Guardian, The Telegraph 2, Die Welt