In 2017, Turkish-born butcher Nusret Gökçe shot to fame overnight when a video of him flamboyantly seasoning a piece of steak went viral online.
Since then, the 39-year-old has become better known by his internet nickname ‘Salt Bae’ and gone on to open over 22 restaurants across the US, UK, Greece and Dubai.
As well as his estimated fortune of £40m, Nusret also counts stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio, Usher and French footballer Kylian Mbappe among his celebrity clientele.
Over the weekend, the steakhouse magnate was one of a handful of people who were allowed onto the pitch in Qatar following Argentina’s World Cup win over France.
Nusret Gökçe – most famously known as ‘Salt Bae’ – pictured with the World Cup trophy on Sunday. Viewers were stunned why the steakhouse magnate was allowed on the pitch
His cringeworthy antics have since gone viral on TikTok – including one moment where the chef is awkwardly blanked by World Cup hero Lionel Messi.
It has since been revealed that Salt Bae broke FIFA rules when he posed for photos with the World Cup trophy on the pitch as there is a very specific list of those allowed to actually touch it, according to their website.
However, Nusret didn’t always run in circles that allowed him to brush shoulders with world-famous footballers – despite what he shares with his 50m Instagram followers.
Here FEMAIL looks back at the chef’s very humble beginnings and how Nusret went on to become one of the globe’s most successful restaurateurs.
Left: Salt Bae was even seen pestering Messi before the trophy lift in a cringeworthy video online. Right: After Messi’s double helped Argentina win the World Cup final on penalties against France on Sunday, the ‘celebrity’ chef tried to grab Messi in a cringeworthy encounter
Nusret Gökçe (front right) shared this family photo on Instagram with his younger siblings and parents. The butcher’s father Faik Gökçe (back right) worked as a miner and had five children
Left: Nesrut while training as a butcher’s apprentice. Right: Nesrut pictured before opening his first restaurant
Born in August 1983, Nusret was one of five children. His father Faik Gökçe worked as a miner and would have to spend months at a time away from the family’s home in poverty-stricken suburb east of Istanbul.
Speaking to The Times in 2019, Nusret explained how he often went to school wearing shoes and shirts that didn’t fit as his parents could afford to buy him anything else.
Nusret claims he left school at the age of 12 and started working as a butcher’s apprentice to help his father our with the family’s finances.
He recalled: ‘I woke up at 6 o’clock, 2 hours on the train commute and 30 minutes after the train in the bus. Then all day long, standing and working. No day off and no vacation.’
While working in Turkish steakhouses, the aspiring chef had to work his way up from the bottom and his responsibilities reportedly included washing dishes.
Speaking to NBC in 2017, Nusret explained: ‘Since I was 14, I worked more than 13 hours a day as a kitchen runner for a butcher. I was always wishing and wishing to open up a restaurant.’
Nesrut left school at 12 and went to work as a butcher’s apprentice to earn money for his family
After completing his military service, Nusret resumed working as a butcher and travelled to Argentina to learn about the meat industry. He was 27 when he opened his first restaurant
After doing his military service at 20, Nusret managed to convince a bank to lend him £2,500 to visit Argentina to learn more about the meat industry.
When he was 27, he opened his first restaurant in Istanbul and claims to have made £4,500 on the first day. With the help of Turkish businessman Ferit Sahenk, Nusret went on to open branches in Ankara, Dubai and Doha.
However, he always had his heart set on one day conquering America and applied for a visa three times before his first successful application in 2009.
Although he had made name for himself in the restaurant business, Nesrut’s life changed overnight in 2017 when he shared a video of himself preparing an Ottoman steak in his signature style on Instagram.
Nusret (pictured in 2017) went viral when he posted a video of himself seasoning a piece of meat with his ‘cobra’ hand and allowing the salt to run down his forearm
The video – which has amassed over 17m views – shows the butcher sprinkling salt on the meat with his hand shaped ‘like a cobra’.
Dressed in a white t-shirt and slim-fitting black jeans, the ‘sensual’ move earned Nusret the title of ‘sexiest butcher on Instagram’.
‘All of my feelings are coming from inside of the meat,’ he told NBC. ‘Down to when I put the salt onto the meat.’
Following on from the success of the video, Nusret introduced his famous gold-covered steak at his restaurants – which has attracted the likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, David Beckham, Usher and Kylian Mbappe in over the years.
In 2019, Nusret bought the Macka Palace – where he has a penthouse apartment – for £36m
Nurset’s gold-foil steaks will set London diners back a staggering £1,450
In 2019, the Instagram star splashed out £36m on luxurious hotel Macka Palace in Istanbul – where he opened another one of his restaurants.
Announcing the landmark moment on Instagram, Nusret wrote: ‘I had one dream which was to have my own restaurant at my own hotel. Thank God one of my biggest dreams is coming true on Friday. See you at Nusr-Et Macka Palace.’
Along with his penthouse apartment in the ‘palace’, Nesrut is believed to also have properties in the US and UK too and often posts pictures from a private pool in Beverley Hills.
Last year, Nusret opened his first London restaurant – where a Golden Giant Tomahawk steak will set diners back a cool £1,450.
In its first four months, the restaurant made £7million of sales – despite being plagued by poor reviews online.
David Beckham is one of countless celebrities who have dined at Nusret’s restaurants
In 2021, Nusret UK Limited, the company behind the steakhouse, filed financial reports to the UK’s Companies House revealing that it ‘performed higher than expected and made a profit of £2.3million. Pictured, a diner at the restaurant
Diners were left less than impressed with the glitzy steakhouse, with a slew of bad reviews leaving it at number 20,491 out of 23,811 in the capital on TripAdvisor in late 2021.
One person commented: ‘Do not be fooled by the glitz and glam and waste your money. Terrible food. Meat was not at all tasty. Ended up going for a £5 kebab after a £300 bill… this place is the biggest joke in London.’
Meanwhile another wrote: ‘Insult to humanity. Worst food, worst service. Paid over £1,800 for three of us. Poor quality, smelly meat, small portions. Rather spend £50 in the local restaurant, will be better! Never again! Stay away, it’s a death trap!’
Despite his huge online following, Nesrut has always remained coy about his private life and previously asserted he doesn’t have time for a relationship.
Usher pictured at one of Nusret’s restaurants, where he bought the gold-foil steak
World Cup star Kylian Mbappe pictured with Salt Bae at one of his restaurants in 2020
Nusret sent the rumour mill into overdrive when he shared a picture surrounded by nine young children in 2017. He captioned the post: ‘The man who does not spend time with his family is not a real man.’
He told The Times in 2019: ‘The person I’m going to date, she’s going to be upset because I don’t have the time. I work until 3am. I like to make women happy, not unhappy.’
That said, the restaurateur set social media alight five years ago when he posted a photo with nine children – which fans speculated were all his own.
Sending the rumour mill into overdrive, he captioned the photo: ‘The man who does not spend time with his family is not a real man.’
Last year, the star was critcised by fans when he shared a video of his emotional reunion with his mother following two years apart.
The clip showed the pair embracing before settling into a sofa for a chat in his parents’ modest home.
In 2021, the millionaire restauranteur shared a video in which he embraced his mother, who he said he hasn’t seen for two years
Many asked in the comments why the millionaire hasn’t bought his mother a new home
It has garnered more than 4 million views in just 15 hours, and thousands of comments, both positive and negative, with many suggesting the star should spend some of his millions on a new home for his mother.
One wrote: ‘You have so much money how comes your mother is not living in a mansion?’
Another added: ‘After 2 years??!!!! Why??!!!! & why you don’t buy a better house for your parents. You are wealthy now!!’
A third fumed: ‘Buy your mom a new house!! What a shame !!!!!!!!! Do something for her!!! She’s not living! Too bad for her to see son having all this money not visiting her and letting her stay at a house like this.’