Profile: Salt Bae, Chef Gone Viral

Profile: Salt Bae, Chef Gone Viral

Shazia Pathan, Staff Writer

Salt Bae is the true manifestation of the fame endowing powers of the Internet. Salt Bae, real name Nusret Gökçe, is a Turkish chef in Dubai, who reached Internet fame earlier this year because his signature salt sprinkling technique went viral. His video on Instagram has gained over 10 million views and boosted him to over 3.5M followers. From his gifs to his meme shirts, no one would guess the arduous life that Gökçe has lived, or the work he puts into his business.

He could not attend school after the age of five, because his family could not afford it. Without education and financial means, nevertheless, Gökçe has spanned his restaurant, Nusr-et, across the Middle East—Turkey, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Riyadh. He had some bumps along the way. He revealed, “Without much money, I traveled to Argentina to see the meat industry and after that, I wanted to travel to the United States…I was refused a visa five or six times, but I never gave up.” Now, he has nine businesses and over 600 employees; he has even hired his 4 brothers.

How has life changed for Gökçe besides the internet fame? “My life hasn’t changed now. I still keep going to work from the morning until midnight…Since I was 14, I worked more than 13 hours a day as a kitchen runner for a butcher.” He cites his work ethic and passion as the chief attraction for customers, “the shape of the meat and the taste of it starting from the top down is a part of me,” he said. “All of my feelings are coming from inside of the meat down to when I put the salt onto the meat.”

“I was always wishing and wishing to open up a restaurant,” he said. Dreams are already coming true for Gökçe who recently served Leonardo DiCaprio and was excited to include the fact in his NBC interview. His next dream? Opening a restaurant in New York because “In New York, there are many steakhouses. We would like to show that Nusr-et is different than the others in service, meat quality and connection with the customers,” he said. Of the funny memes and comments, Gökçe told NBC, “I’m the happiest man in the world…So far, we’ve been the conversation [and] everybody is doing the same move.” Gökçe truly seems to be grateful for the appreciation he receives, as he reposts pictures of people imitating his moves, like of soccer player Danny Welbeck, and of people wearing his face, like singer Rihanna.

Photo courtesy of YOUTUBE.COM