South Florida

‘It’s a disgrace:’ Miami lawmakers condemn ‘Salt Bae’ over serving Venezuela’s Maduro

Venezuelans protest Salt Bae, Maduro outside Miami restaurant

A protest Wednesday outside Nusr-Et steakhouse in Brickell, Miami, came after Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, known as Salt Bae, lavished steak dinner on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro in Istanbul.
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A protest Wednesday outside Nusr-Et steakhouse in Brickell, Miami, came after Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe, known as Salt Bae, lavished steak dinner on Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro in Istanbul.

The City of Miami publicly condemned Chef Nusret Gökçe Thursday after he hosted Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro earlier last week.

About two weeks ago, Gökçe hosted Maduro at his Istanbul restaurant and posted video of the lavish meal to his 15.7 million Instagram followers, while reports say nearly a third of Maduro’s countrymen go without food at least once a day.

Commissioners unanimously passed a resolution that “affirms that the city stands together with the people of Cuba and Venezuela and the larger community of immigrants in the City who are rightfully denouncing Gökçe’s support for the authoritarian regimes of Cuba and Venezuela.”

Following Gökçe’s social media post, protesters flooded his Brickell-area restaurant as many on the internet pledged to boycott his business.

In the video, Maduro is seen feasting on an opulent dinner of roasted lamb, while Gökçe — who became known as Salt Bae on social media for his theatrics of sprinkling his steaks with a salt flourish — catered to Maduro. He draped a T-shirt with a caricature of himself — with the logo for his restaurants — over Maduro like a bib. And they said goodbye with a tight embrace.

Turkish chef Salt Bae received Venezuelan President Nicolás Maduro and his wife Cilia Flores at his restaurant in Istanbul. Videos posted to social media show him preparing food for Maduro.

“It’s a disgrace and an insult to our community that Chef Nusret Gökçe has shown publicly that he admires the dictators that have caused pain and death in Cuba and Venezuela,” said Miami commissioner Manolo Reyes, who sponsored the resolution, in a statement. “I thank my colleagues for showing their support to the Venezuelan and Cuban communities in this matter, and for standing united with those that denounce dictatorships in the region.”

Gökçe’ ultimately removed the videos from social media and Maduro called the response a “conspiracy” between governments that want to destabilize Venezuela.

Miami Herald Food Editor Carlos Frias contributed to this report.
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