Restaurant News & Reviews

Yelp shuts down reviews of Salt Bae’s restaurant after he hosts Venezuela’s Maduro

Reviews of Salt Bae’s Miami restaurant are plummeting — but it has less to do with the food than the chef.

Yelp has temporarily stopped accepting reviews on its page for Nusr-Et Miami, the restaurant owned by Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, the social media celebrity chef known as Salt Bae. On Monday, he shared videos of himself cooking expensive steaks for Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro in Istanbul.

Gökçe was blasted online for lavishing expensive meats with his signature flourish onto a leader whose countrymen are facing widespread food scarcity, according to several studies. Online commenters took to their most accessible source of criticism, Yelp, where they posted hundreds of reviews against the chef, as much as his restaurant.

“I can’t approve a chef who serves food to a couple that rule a country where people are dying by starvation,” one of the more sanguine commenters, from Canada, wrote alongside a one-star review.

Yelp shut down reviews for chef Nusret Gökçe’s restaurant in Miami after he hosted Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro in Istanbul.

Yelp posted a graphic saying it was reviewing the page and might remove some of the comments. Yelpers were also blocked from posting during the review.

“This business recently made waves in the news, which often means that people come to this page to post their views on the news,” the post read. “While we don’t take a stand one way or the other when it comes to these news events, we do work to remove both positive and negative posts that appear to be motivated more by the news coverage itself than the reviewer’s personal consumer experience with the business.”

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Florida Sen. Marco Rubio told the Miami Herald he was “pissed,” and showed his anger when he saw Gökçe’s videos, which were posted to Instagram, where Gökçe’s has more than 15 million followers. When he saw Gökçe owned a Miami outpost of his Nusr-Et steakhouse, he tweeted the Miami restaurant’s address and phone inviting follower to share their displeasure. (Gökçe has since removed the videos but the Miami Herald captured them before they were taken down.)

Carlos Frías is the James Beard award-winning Miami Herald food editor. Contact: 305-376-4624; @carlos_frias