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Salt Bae: How Did The World’s Most Famous Turkish Chef Become A Billionaire?

The eccentric Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, better known as Salt Bae, a few days ago generated a stir again after a group of people expressed their disgust at the high price of dinner, which reached 37,000 pounds (US $ 51,000) in his new London restaurant Nusr-et.

In the posted account, diners ordered a Golden Tomahawk, worth 850 pounds and 16 servings of a house special Baklava and four Golden Baklavas with servings of French fries, which came out for just over 600 pounds. While on drinks they spent 30,620 pounds.

In social networks it is known that eating in Salt Bae restaurants is expensive thanks to, among other things, the eccentricities of the chef who is viral for his playful way of cooking and seasoning food.

However, what most outraged customers was the excessive cost of table service, which amounted to 5,000 pounds (US $ 6,900).

Salt Bae currently owns a chain of 16 restaurants in 6 countries and has a personal fortune of approximately US $ 50 million. However, his path to success was not easy, as he started from scratch.

Born in August 1983 and the son of a coal miner, he lived his childhood in poverty alongside his four siblings. His education ended early at age 5 because his family did not have the financial means to support it.

-Road to glory-

In the midst of precariousness, Salt Bae did not stop with his passion and at age 14 he began working as a kitchen assistant for a butcher in order to earn money.

Without much money, I traveled to Argentina to see how the meat industry worked and after that, I wanted to travel to the United States, but I was denied a visa five or six times. Still and all, I never gave up”He told NBC.

During this stage of his life, he spent nearly three years working, even for free, as a cook in various restaurants, with the aim of improving his culinary techniques.

As in the beginning, Bae continued to maintain his routine, since, according to him, fame did not change him. “My life did not change now. I keep working from morning to midnight”He added.

-Your first business-

For him 2010, now 27 years old and more than 10 years of hard work, Nusret he had saved and learned enough to realize his dream of starting a business.

He returned to his country and started a small restaurant with 8 tables in the Etiler neighborhood of Istanbul. Thus the chain was born “Nusr-Et Steakhouse”, whose name came from taking the name of the founder and adding a hyphen separating the final two letters “AND”, which mean meat.

The restaurant soon became synonymous with gourmet food and exclusivity in Istanbul, attracting celebrities and well-known executives from the city, such as the billionaire Ferit Şahenk, one of the ten richest people in Turkey, who became fascinated with food and decided to invest in his business in 2012 to expand it.

Thanks to this investment, he was able to open new restaurants within Istanbul and reached other Turkish cities, such as Ankara and Marmaris, thus consolidating at the national level.

In 2014, Nusr-Et Steakhouse established its first branch outside of Turkey, choosing Dubai as its new destination. This was the beginning of the international expansion of the chain. During the following years, he continued to conquer the Middle East, reaching cities such as Doha and Abu Dabi.

-Video of popularity-

In January 2017, he decided to make one more video for his business’s social networks. He took a steak and began to cut it with great precision and elegance. He arranged the chunks with his knife and finally sprinkled some salt over them in a rather particular motion.

This image, of just over 30 seconds, was published on the Internet under the name “Ottoman steak” and unleashed a viral phenomenon that catapulted Nusret to world fame.

In a matter of days, the nets were flooded with the image of the cook spreading salt over the steak. Later, thousands of people began posting photos and videos imitating him. A mural with his figure appeared in Australia. Soccer players from the major leagues also joined the trend by celebrating their goals with the technique of Nusret.

By early February of that year, he had already become the meme of the moment and an icon of popular culture, so much so that Leonardo Di Caprio, Roger Federer, Kylian Mbappé, among many other stars, attended his restaurants for a demonstration. Singer Rihanna even walked down the street with a T-shirt printed with her technique.

-Excentricities and controversies-

But not everything has been rosy in the business career of Nusret. As his popularity increased, various controversies broke out over his publications and eccentricities.

When he publicly presented his most expensive dish, a steak dipped in 24-karat gold dust that ranges in price from $ 300 to $ 500, thousands of Internet users reacted by recriminating him for offering a meal with these characteristics when millions of people struggle every day to put something in their mouths. Actors, singers and athletes have tried this steak receiving strong criticism from its followers.

Then, his networks were exploded by a photo that he uploaded paying tribute to Fidel Castro and for a video in which he served an expensive steak to Nicolas Maduro. The criticism and pressure were such that it finally eliminated the publications, although these had already gone viral, generating protests outside its restaurants and negative ratings on platforms such as Tripadvisor.

Currently, Salt Bae At 38 years of age, he is positioned as one of the most famous chefs in the world, with more than 39 million followers on Instagram and being a popular Internet meme.

It has a total of 16 restaurants distributed between the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Greece and Turkey, and plans to continue expanding to reach countries such as England, Italy and Germany, among many others.

Being successful is difficult, but continually maintaining it is even more difficult. Always have your goals clear and work on them as if nothing was impossible. Just keep working and working… When I started, butchering was considered a degrading job in Turkey. Now, thanks to me, all the children want to become butchers”, He told international media.

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