Presented by LULU KNOWS
Photographer Viktorija Pashuta @viktorija_pashuta
Producer Jackson Chong @jacksonchong_
Stylist Jesse J @jessejcollections
Tailor Cecilia Aragon @cacouture
Grooming Kseniya Bernkhardt @k.hart.muah
Photo Assistant Patrick Bastien
Video Davide Micciulla @davidemicciulla
Words by Kimberly Haddad @indygo_ann
It’s unorthodox for an establishment in Los Angeles to open its doors and make a glorious entrance into the restaurant scene with- out community outreach, gripping publicity, or a soft opening to nearby friends and foodies. But a determined celebrity chef with exquisite salting flair did exactly that. Despite the pandemic and without a hype squad, the infamous Salt Bae, also known as Nusret Gökçe, settled into the closed Citizen space adjacent to Wolfgang Puck’s sleek bistro, Spago and made Nusr-Et Steakhouse one of the most affluent openings in the city of Beverly Hills. Grossing nearly three million dollars in just two weeks of its launch, it has become a magnet for gluttonous carnivores and entertainment seekers alike.
Following a series of viral Internet videos that showcased his gift for sensual meat slicing and sophisticated salt tossing, Gökçe became a global phenomenon. His initial recognition stemmed from the original video entitled “Ottoman Steak”, which was displayed on his personal Instagram account in January 2017 and quickly circulated across a multitude of platforms. Garnering over 10 million views and being dubbed the legendary “Salt Bae” by an abundance of admirers near and far, Gökçe realized he was on to something rather spectacular. A literal super- human chef with dazzling charm and modest arrogance, Gökçe happens to be one of the few big-name chefs who is adored by many. His perseverance and unrestrained stamina have continued to lead him down a path of dominating success because he is more than a chef. He is an artist who has leaned into his craft and learned to transform the presentation of food into a celebrated art form.
Born in Erzurum, Turkey, Gökçe was enrooted in poverty and while his father operated as a mineworker, he too began working during his years in elementary school. As a young boy, Gökçe was responsible for selling water at the neighborhood market on weekends and painting a variety of shoes during the week. Despite his ongoing efforts to contribute to his family, they still lacked financial stability. Eventually, Gökçe was forced to leave school in the sixth grade and work as a butcher’s apprentice in Istanbul at just 13 years old. While his childhood dream was to become an Olympic athlete, he’s embraced his personal struggles and adopted a unique narrative focused around patience, dedication, and most importantly, love—a universal language that has enabled him to become an unstoppable entrepreneur and innovative idol for aspiring butchers and culinary artists worldwide. “I got to this point from ground zero,” says Gökçe. “I have made my dreams come true one-by-one and I thank God for giving me this chance, for rewarding my hard work. There is no room for complacency in my life.”
Traveling across a myriad of countries, including Argentina and the United States during a span of four years, Gökçe humbly labored in local restaurants unsalaried, in hopes to gain valuable experience and hone his craft as a chef and restauranteur. Succeeding his return to Turkey, he opened his very first restaurant, Nusr-Et Steakhouse in 2010 in Etiler, Istanbul, and two years later, he partnered with Doğuş Group, one of the country’s largest private-sector conglomerates—a joint venture that served as a catalyst to his flourishing career. Expanding his trade immensely, Gökçe has opened a total of 24 restaurants around the world and is seducing the bellies of hotshot celebrities and politicians, including Leonardo DiCaprio, Jason Statham, Drake, King Mohammed VI of Morocco, Jeff Bezos, Cristiano Ronaldo, Maradona, Andrea Bocelli, King Abdullah of Jordan, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, and more.
A charismatic man notorious for erotic meat slicing and flamboyant salt dusting while wearing his blacked-out John Lennon sunglasses, he has become an international sensation and influential leader within the industry. His big heart and steadfastness has not only enabled the meat-loving mastermind to open a chain of luxury steakhouses across the globe, but to also establish a full-fledged brand where he creates tantalizing culinary affairs and genuine bonds with his many fans.
From mouthwatering Dallas steak with mustard sauce to roasted neck of lamb, tender Nusr-Et meatballs, and the glorious 24-carat golden tomahawk valued at $1,000, Gökçe is quite literally the king of flesh. Greeting every single table—regardless of status—and ensuring folks have the opportunity to snap a photo of his signature techniques, Gökçe thrives in his element and dedicates the majority of his life to his work and artistry.
Welcoming an array of multicultural guests into his venues every single day, Gökçe does more than provide delicious food offerings. Each dish tells an exceptional story and every table is bound to a unique gourmet experience that satisfies each of the senses. “People don’t come to Nusr-Et just for a premium quality and very delicious meal. It is a theatrical experience that they live and feel,” he says. “It is a great pleasure to serve them in the best possible way, to create that experience and see their satisfaction. I am always working hard to raise the bar higher. It’s a great challenge that brings a different kind of excitement, and ultimately, a different feeling of success.”
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