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.
“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.