What would you expect from an $830 steak? Would a world famous chef wielding a massive steak knife slicing filets off of a giant tomahawk beef cut do it for you? How about a $15 Red Bull to wash it down?
Feel free to jump in on the heated TikTok discussion of this issue with over 50,000 users. Over 750,000 people have already watched Turkish chef Salt Bae slicing his way into London’s elite culinary heart in black gloves and an open pink and black blotched button-up at his new Nusr-Et Steakhouse in The Big Smoke.
The restaurateur, (whose real name is Nusret Gökçe) owns a huge chain of steak houses across Europe, thanks in part to his enigmatic celebrity, possibly sparked by none other than Bruno Mars. In 2017, the American pop star spotted an Instagram clip titled, “Ottoman Steak” and tweeted a screen grab captioned, “Annnddd I’m out.”
The subject rocked a white shirt, black Lennon-esque glasses above a seductive sneer and an arm arched as a cobra, a signature cascade of salt tumbling down his tanned forelimb. Two-and-a-half million overnight tweets later (around 17 million today), and the ridiculous theatre that was #saltbae was introduced to the world.
Now Bae’s social media entertains over 39 million Instagram followers and a legion of celebrity admirers who follow him from ritzy locales, from Dubai to Mykonos and from Beverly Hills to Abu Dhabi. Serenaded in front of the grill by Andrea Bocelli, celebrating Italy’s Euro Cup win alongside manager Roberto Mancini or serving a sliver of meat into the mouth of Conor McGregor, the chef seems at home amidst the international elite. David Beckham’s a fan, as are Snoop Dogg, Drake, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Rihanna, who purportedly has his face on a t-shirt.
It certainly helps to have well-heeled patrons when you’re serving up gold-flaked steaks and $12 cokes at 14 worldwide restaurants. The heated debate nowadays is whether Salt Bae’s hot-plate-fired and butter-soaked steaks are worth the expense.
This began when a customer shared an eye-watering bill from Gökçe’s newest British establishment in Knightsbridge, showing off a receipt listing four Red Bulls for £44 (about $60) and a total tab of £1,812.40, an almost $2,500 dinner.
The mad gastronomic circus also seems to generate a Tilt-a-Whirl of opinions on whether the Nusr Et’s food is actually any good. Its New York opening, for example, was marred by scathing reviews from the city’s food critics. Celebrity, though, is itself a draw. Perhaps food considerations come secondary to the status that Salt Bae has cultivated across the world. As his star continues to ascend, Bae’s social media presence is guaranteed to continue to entertain while (hopefully) the Red Bulls keep the famous flying.
Read More: How to Cook Côte de Boeuf Steak at Home
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