Nusret Gökce is the real name of viral sensation “Salt Bae.” The original meme features Gökce slicing a cut of meat in an expertly precise and sultry manner. The final move he makes once the meat has been sliced is to bend his elbow and sprinkle salt in a way that falls down his arm and onto the meat in a very fabulous way. Gökce is a Turkish chef that looks the part of a male model, but in reality owns a chain of steakhouses called Nusr-Et. Since the viral success of the Salt Bae meme, it seems that no one really knows the man behind the meat.
Unlike so many of the “insta-famous” people that have shown up one day and been gone the next, Salt Bae is incredibly smart and wildly successful. He’s a man that understands his craft and has his eye on the prize. Once you have a little more information about Salt Bae, we warn you that you’ll want to know more. You may even find yourself wanting to sample some of his amazing cuisine. In the meantime, sit back, relax and learn these 15 things that you didn’t already know about the sensual chef that is Salt Bae!
15. Started Out As a Dishwasher
No one can say that Salt Bae has had everything handed to him on a silver platter. It’s been quite the opposite in fact. Starting as a young teenager, he began working as a dishwasher and doing other menial jobs in restaurants out of necessity. Most people would hate doing such work, but not Salt Bae. He knew that he loved food and wanted to surround himself with the restaurant atmosphere and so began a labor of love. Salt Bae dreamed of owning his own restaurant and wanted nothing more than to share his talent for cooking with the world. Considering that he’s now a viral sensation, I think he’s made his dream come true and then some! It does make you wonder if he washed dishes with the same flare as his salting technique?
14. Restaurants in Turkey and UAE
Salt Bae (it’s a lot more fun to call him that than his real name) is actually an incredibly successful chef and entrepreneur these days, in addition to maintaining his recent explosion of fame. He currently has six restaurants throughout Turkey and one in the United Arab Emirates, specifically Dubai. This successful chain of steakhouses is called “Nusr-Et” which is something of a play on words (more on this later). The restaurants have always been successful and wildly popular in the Middle East, but they have absolutely exploded in popularity since Salt Bae became a worldwide viral phenomenon. As a result, he is obviously looking to expand and bring his love of food to many others around the world. Don’t worry Salt Bae, if you salt it, they will come.
13. Greets Customers Personally
Salt Bae is infectiously passionate about his food. He is a very hands-on owner and chef. If you stop off at one of his restaurants (you’d better get a reservation) you’ll see him greet customers and serve them himself at table side. While he certainly can’t be in seven places at once, Salt Bae works every day and works hard. He doesn’t just want to be the face of the restaurant (although, that in and of itself would be enough), he wants to share his emotions and his passion through his food. When he greets the customers and interacts with them, he is both genuine and unassuming. Part of what keeps them coming back (aside from the amazing food) is his personality, his attitude and his love for his craft.
12. Leonardo DiCaprio Ate At His Restaurant
One of the cool side effects from being a meme is that you get a lot of attention. Not only was he already well known in the Middle East, now people from the Western world are taking the opportunity to sample Salt Bae’s fare. Case in point, Academy Award winning actor Leonardo DiCaprio, decided to try the food at Nusr-Et. This is a huge testimony to the quality of meat and farming techniques Salt Bae uses since DiCaprio is very much against mainstream agricultural practices used in most of the world. In photos shared where Salt Bae himself was seasoning the meal for Leo, he seems to be absolutely amazed and entranced by this mysterious and sultry chef. He must have been prepared for a tasty treat with the toothpick already in his mouth ready for the aftermath of his meal!
11. He May Have Nine Children?
You read that right… Salt Bae is apparently a lover of children. With nine kids pictured with him, there’s no doubt that he’ll be leaving quite a legacy behind one day. It’s not exactly clear if all the kids pictured with him are his, but the caption in his posted photo references the importance of spending time with family. As of 2010, Salt Bae was not married according to an interview he gave, but it’s unclear what his marital status is these days. One would think that there would be tons of information available about him and his family, but he is about as mysterious in real life as he seems to be in his viral videos. Perhaps all these are his children, but it’s clear that he values family and there are lots of children in his life.
10. Steakhouse Name Meaning
His steakhouses are named after himself, but with a fun and unique play on the word. The word “Nusret” actually means victory in and of itself. But the word “et” in Turkish means “meat.” Calling his steakhouses “Nusr-Et” is a fun play on the word for meat, along with his actual first name (his first name rolls off the tongue a bit easier than his last). It seems also quite appropriate that his name means victory, because there’s nothing “second place” about his amazing food. He’s a great businessman and knew to market himself along with the restaurant going way back before any of his viral memes or videos. Salt Bae will likely be a household name the world over for steak just as much as for his fancy seasoning of steaks!
9. Grew Up in Poverty
Salt Bae is on top of the world now, but it hasn’t always been this way. He seems to be very humble and keeps all the fame in perspective. It’s a lot easier to have perspective when you come from his background. Growing up in a poorer Turkish family that worked very hard, he learned his amazing work ethic at a very young age. He’s obviously learned quite a bit from his family and got enough of an education at home to get to be who he is today. Salt Bae began working long, hard hours in restaurants doing menial jobs since he was 14 years old. These long hours haven’t slacked any as he’s grown into a restaurant mogul, as he keeps pretty much the same working hours he’s had all his life.
8. Did Not Attend School Past Five
Educational opportunities look very different across the world. Not every country requires that its citizens receive a formal education. This may seem absolutely crazy, but schooling is seen as a privilege and less of a necessity in many countries. Families are expected to provide most of the training for life skills and trades. In the case of Salt Bae, because school was not free, his family could not afford for him to attend past the age of five! He must have gotten some great home training to become the man he is today. Despite his lack of formal schooling, Salt Bae has managed to start and maintain several successful restaurants as well as leverage his fame into worldwide opportunities. We should all have his drive and motivation, “sprinkled” with passion.
7. His First Restaurant Was in Istanbul
Having saved his money and keeping his eye on the target, Salt Bae opened his first restaurant when he was 27 years old. This first restaurant was opened in Istanbul, Turkey and was actually very small. He had just eight tables and ten employees. His mission was to provide the best quality of meat that he could find. He has traveled to many countries that export meat in an attempt to learn the way that industry worked. This knowledge, mixed with some great culinary skills make for one heck of a steak! Well, the rest is history, with seven successful steakhouses in the chain that have customers beating down the door. It’s not just eight tables and ten employees anymore! One question remains however… do all his chefs season the steaks with his signature move?
6. Was Denied a United States Visa
While traveling the world seeking to study the meat industry, he visited many countries and wanted to come to the United States desperately. Unfortunately (in what we now would think a crime against humanity), he was denied a travel visa to the United States more than five times! How could the United States deny such an amazingly suave, Turkish culinary master entry into the country for so long? Well, they made it right in the long run and Salt Bae ended up getting a three month travel visa to the US in 2009. He seemingly has no “beef” (like what we did there) with having to keep reapplying for his visa. He obviously understands how to be patient and that good things take time. But surely when you’re Salt Bae, it gets easier to get into the country.
5. Looking to Open in New York and London
Some people take viral fame and do ridiculous stuff in the public eye, wasting their fifteen minutes of fame and squandering opportunity. This is far from the case with Salt Bae. He’s leveraging his viral fame into opportunities to open more steakhouses. He personally believes that he will have arrived when he can open a steakhouse in New York City. Well, he is rumored to be making those dreams come true. With him reportedly having backers to help him open new restaurants in London as well as New York, it seems that he’ll be a multi-continental sensation in the world of cuisine. With all the attention focused on him, there should be no shortage of people lined-up to help him add his signature move to the New York City restaurant scene.
4. Fan Art
His general posture and style of seasoning meat is so unique that it has inspired artists all over the world. That’s right… artists! Salt Bae fan art is something of a sensation, with paintings and drawings surfacing all over the place showing the handsome chef, as well as variations of characters like him with pulled back hair, sunglasses, a flexed forearm and broken wrist in a sprinkling motion. He has even been compared to the character Juandissimo from the Nickelodeon cartoon series The Fairly Oddparents. This is inspired Juandissimo/Salt Bae crossover art, which is both hilarious and quite accurate for anyone that has watched the show. You know you’re popularity is reaching new heights when it sparks creativity among artists. Keep sprinkling Salt Bae and they will keep painting!
3. Got a Shout-Out From Bruno Mars
There aren’t a whole lot of celebrities hotter than Bruno Mars these days. The fact that good old Bruno gave Salt Bae something of a shoutout on Twitter gave him even more credibility in the social media world. With the signature photograph of Salt Bae sprinkling his salt and the caption “Annndddd I’m out” people started talking about Salt Bae more than ever. Maybe he needs to comp him a few steaks at his steakhouses for the props (and I’m sure he would), because he owes a lot of his new fame to Bruno. Nothing else has been said by Bruno on Twitter, but he’s probably getting a kick out of all the fame surrounding his comment and Tweeting the photo. After all, nobody knows style better than Bruno Mars!
2. Personally Tends and Massages Cows
As has been mentioned recently, Salt Bae knows the meat industry inside and out. He has a passion not only for cooking, but for having the best cut of meat to offer his customers. It may not surprise you then to learn that Salt Bae with all his fabulousness and style spends time keeping up with his cattle and making sure they are properly tended. He has even posted videos that (surprise, surprise) have also gone viral of him massaging the cows. This technique must do something to the quality of the meat, or maybe it just looks cool. Either way, Salt Bae is very invested in his stock of cattle and takes the tending of them very seriously. Anything worth doing is worth doing right, isn’t that correct Salt Bae?
1. The Salting Move Symbolizes Something “Extra”
To Salt Bae himself, his signature move may just be his way of showing his passion and general respect for the process of cooking and serving meat, but to the rest of the world, it signals so much more! The Salt Bae move has come to signal the “extra” that comes after a job well done. It’s the cherry on top of a delicious ice cream sundae. The move has been replicated by all kinds of people including professional athletes and even fighter pilots! This is both entertaining and flattering for Salt Bae himself who has recently acknowledged how many people have adopted the move and made it their own. He’ll keep doing his move, because after all, it is his way of expressing the finishing touches on a culinary masterpiece!