What is Salt Bae’s Net Worth?
Salt Bae is the nickname of Turkish chef and restaurateur Nusret Gökçe, whose distinctive method of preparing and seasoning meat turned him into an Internet meme in 2017. Nusret Gökçe has a net worth of $80 million. On the business side of things, he owns a chain of luxury steakhouses called Nusr-Et, which has branches in the United States, United Kingdom, Middle East, and Greece. Gökçe has been involved in some controversies over the years, including for allegedly taking his employees’ tips and violating COVID-19 safety protocols at his restaurant in Boston.
Nusret Gökçe was born in 1983 in Paşalı, Erzurum Province, Turkey into a Kurdish family. He has four siblings, and his father, Faik, was a mineworker. The family’s poor finances forced Gökçe to leave school in the sixth grade, after which time he became a butcher’s apprentice in the Kadıköy district of Istanbul.
Between 2007 and 2010, Gökçe visited a number of different countries and worked at various local restaurants for free. He did this so he could gain experience as both a chef and future restaurateur. Upon returning to Turkey, Gökçe opened his first restaurant in 2010 in Istanbul. Four years after that, he opened a restaurant in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Largely due to the increased exposure he got from going viral in 2017, Gökçe expanded his business and opened a chain of luxury steakhouses called Nusr-Et. The name of the restaurant is a pun on his first name, with the “Et” meaning “meat” in Turkish. Gökçe went on to open restaurant branches in Greece, the United States, and the United Kingdom, as well as in locations in such Middle Eastern countries as Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Gökçe gained widespread attention online in 2017 when videos and pictures of him preparing and seasoning meat went viral on social media. He became particularly renowned for his distinctive method of sprinkling salt by dropping it from his fingertips high in the air, down to his forearm and onto a dish. With 10 million views on his Instagram post, Gökçe was given the nickname “Salt Bae” and was subsequently turned into a major Internet meme. This exposure caused him to become famous beyond just social media, with various celebrities and politicians from around the world soliciting his service.
Despite his viral success, Gökçe has earned largely negative reviews for his steakhouse chain. In 2018, his New York City steakhouse was roundly panned by critics, who called it mundane, over-salted, and overpriced. However, reviewers have been relatively more positive about the restaurants’ entertainment value, asserting that it works as dinner theater as long as “Salt Bae is in the house.”
Gökçe has been involved in a number of controversies big and small. In late 2017, he was criticized for a photo of him posing in front of a picture of former Cuban president Fidel Castro, whom he was shown emulating. The next year, Gökçe drew controversy after a man was severely burned in a failed fire show at his steakhouse in Istanbul. He had another restaurant controversy in late 2019 when four of his former employees accused him of taking their share of tips, after which they were allegedly fired. Gökçe elicited more criticism in 2020 for violating COVID-19 safety protocols at his Boston restaurant, prompting the establishment to be temporarily closed by public health officials just days after its opening. A year later, Gökçe came under scrutiny in the UK when patrons at one of his restaurants there were charged with a £37,000 bill. Beyond his restaurant business, he stirred some controversy in late 2022 when he joined the Argentine team on the field after the country’s victory in the FIFA World Cup final, and proceeded to mess with the players and their medals.
Involved in some charitable endeavors, Gökçe built a school in his home province of Erzurum. He has also reportedly built a library, guest house, mosque, and English education center there, among other facilities.