Salty celebrity chefs are a dime a dozen these days, and they seem to be showing up everywhere-on social media, as memes, in cooking shows and as a part of virtually every celebrity showcase imaginable.
But some are worth way more than a dime, and that includes the Turkish chef and restaurateur. Salt Bae’s net worth is estimated to be $60 million.
Salt Bae, whose real name is the far less glamorous-sounding Nusret Gokce, was born in Turkey in 1983. His father Faik, was a mine worker, but when it comes to breeding, he and his wife, Fatima, were no fakers when it comes to producing sons with a serious food jones. Salt Bae has three brothers who are also chefs, but to date he’s the only one who’s reached celeb status.
Like many chefs, Salt Bae started working with food early on. According to reports, his family forced him to leave school early to serve as a butcher’s apprentice in Istanbul.But Salt Bae quickly worked his way up the food ladder, and he also started to display a formidable business acumen. He opened his first restaurant in 2010, then went upscale to open another one in pricey Dubai. And, of course, a chain of sorts quickly followed.
So how did he become famous? Why, on Twitter, of course-where else? He posted a review on his restaurant’s site called “Ottoman Steak” that featured him dropping his salt from fingers to forearm, then sprinkling it onto a special dish.
The video quickly went viral, but critics were less impressed. One salty reviewer described his dishes as “over-salted and overpriced,” and no less a food authority than the legendary New York Post characterized his steaks as “mundane,” while his hamburgers tapped out as “overcooked.”
But Salt Bae continued to supply the sizzle, if not the tasty steaks. He opened a new London restaurant, Nusr-Et Steakhouse London, that was featured on Instagram, but one diner bit back by posting a bill for over 1800 pounds, then saying “It is cheaper to fly and have food at Salt Bae’s Turkish restaurant than dine at the London one.” Ouch!
That same review also featured a 9 pounds bill for coke and a 630-pound charge for something called a Tomahawk steak, which is evidently cooked sharply enough to stab diners right in the wallet.
Overpriced dishes aside, it does help explain Salt Bae’s extreme wealth, which seems to be mostly based on taking a flamboyant, pricy and spicy approach to the restaurant trade.
Speaking of overpriced dishes, Salt Bae’s relationship and marital status is a bit mysterious as well. He was dating the co-founder of Nusr-et, Mithat Erdem, and has dated the CEO of the Doğuş Group, Ferit Sahenk.
Salt Bae has supposedly worked for free in various high-level restaurants around the world, although the concept of “free” likely includes the concept of free publicity.
Mr. Bae is also well-known for having a fleet of luxury cars and a helicopter, which makes it possible to make one last unforgivable joke about his vehicle repair bills likely being somewhat on the salty side.