Restaurant News & Reviews

‘Salt Bae’ caught posing as Fidel Castro — and he just opened a Miami restaurant

A screengrab of ‘Salt Bae’ chef Nusret Gökçe’s Instagram post from November 2016. The post has since been removed.
A screengrab of ‘Salt Bae’ chef Nusret Gökçe’s Instagram post from November 2016. The post has since been removed.

“Salt Bae” has sprinkled some salt in old Cuban wounds — by posing as Fidel Castro.

The Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, who found fame as a meme for sprinkling salt with a flourish on steaks, backed into new notoriety when Miami Instagrammers eager to know about his new Brickell restaurant discovered a photo of him emulating the late Cuban dictator.

In a post four days after Castro’s death last November, Gökçe posted of a photo of himself wearing a black beret with the logo of his restaurant, Nusr-et Steakhouse, and smoking a cigar. In the background is a black-and-white photo of Castro smoking a cigar.

Most of the 1,945 comments — in Spanish and English — are unprintable here.

“I thought you were pretty damn cool until I saw this,” one of the few G-rated commenters wrote.

The steakhouse chef posted a note in Turkish seeming to equate what he does at his restaurant with Castro’s Cuban revolution.

“Sen'de et'de devrim yaptın dedı (Bugün Ankara nusretteyız,” he wrote.

Google Translate roughly converts that to: “They said you started a revolution, too.”

It took Miami a year to discover the post, but soon thereafter, a screenshot was shared hundreds of times on Facebook.

“This is the kiss of death in Miami,” Carlos A. Navarro posted on Facebook with a screenshot of Gökçe next to his now-famous meme of himself, wearing a white T-shirt and dark sunglasses, sprinkling salt.

“Stupid and ignorant anywhere in the world … but beyond disrespectful and a slap in the face to Cubans in Miami,” Navarro wrote.

Nusret Gökçe (pronounced NOOSE-ret guck-CHEH) founded Nusr-et Steakhouse more than 10 years ago in Turkey and has 10 locations in cities including Istanbul, Abu Dhabi and Dubai. He is a trained butcher and chef, and his knife skills and signature salt finish earned him a loyal online following, primarily on Instagram.

He announced earlier this year that he would open a New York outpost of Nusr-et, though his Miami restaurant opened first in September. It took over for the defunct Peruvian restaurant Coya at 999 Brickell Ave.

“I just called and canceled 2 reservations and TOLD THEM HOW I FEEL ABOUT THEIR SALT GUY AND HIS POST,” Miami Realtor Andres Asion, son of a Cuban exile, wrote in a Facebook post Sunday that was shared 181 times. “Had reservations for Dad's birthday lunch and a birthday dinner for me — I can't take my dad there now!!”

Late Sunday, the Herald emailed Gökçe’s representatives, who were trying to reach him. Less than 20 minutes after that email, the Instagram post was removed.

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