Nusret Gökçe – better known as ‘Salt Bae‘ – might just be the most genius businessman on the planet.
The 38-year-old Turkish butcher, restauranteur and social media star, who went viral in 2017 for his outrageous way of sprinkling salt, has leveraged his fame into a steakhouse empire, having opened ‘Nusr-Et’ restaurants on both coasts of the United States as well as across the Middle East and now Europe. He flies across the world eating kilos of red meat and visiting his different restaurants, attracting huge crowds in the process.
But it’s not all sunshine and daisies. Gökçe has come under fire for the outrageous prices he charges for his meaty meals, with diners from LA to London voicing their displeasure about the often four-figure price tags his steak demands. I mean, a 2kg tomahawk covered in gold leaf was never going to be cheap… Many have said it’s a total gimmick, with one critic voicing his displeasure in outrageous fashion.
Well-regarded British food writer Jay Rayner has made headlines around the globe for his scathing ‘review’ of Nusr-Et’s new London location. Well, it’s not really a review. Having decided that “[The Guardian] has better things to spend its money on,” he instead elected to buy a £8.50 kebab from a much-loved local takeaway and eat it outside Nusr-Et as a protest, eating it outside of the fancy restaurant in full view of staff and diners.
“It’s a ludicrous gesture, but then the Nusr-Et Steakhouse is a ludicrous restaurant, and one stupid turn deserves another. Still, I’m certain that I am eating better than all the customers through the huge wooden doors behind me, spaffing their sticky largesse over gold-leaf wrapped steaks,” Rayner writes in his hilarious takedown of the lavish spot.
Indeed, his article is really a review singing the praises of Kebab Kid, the Parsons Green takeaway joint he bought his kebab at, writing about the greasy spoon in the same way you’d expect someone to talk about Nobu or The Fat Duck. It’s definitely worth a read in full.
Rayner drew both praise and criticism last September when he announced that he would be pausing writing negative restaurant reviews during the COVID-19 pandemic, explaining that “in such dire economic circumstances, it just feels unnecessary… I do this job because I love restaurants. And now is definitely the time to show them a bit of that love.”
This kebab stunt is a clever way to get around being directly critical of Nusr-Et and Salt Bae whilst still sharing his opinion on the joint – whilst also celebrating a local business that’s no doubt been one of the uncelebrated heroes of The Spicy Cough, like all takeaway places around the globe have been. Nicely done, mate.
Take a sneak peek behind the curtains at Salt Bae’s private butcher’s in Istanbul below.