Seven times Salt Bae was at the centre of controversy: mother reunion to artist lawsuit

From restaurant closures to sky-high bill disputes and gold-dusted steaks

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Love him or hate him, there’s no denying that the eyes of the world are on Salt Bae. The flamboyant Turkish butcher, whose real name is Nusret Gokce, is famous around the globe for his extravagant steaks and theatrical seasoning methods

In his latest controversy, the brains behind the pricy steakhouse chain Nusr-Et sparked criticism when he shared a video of him embracing his mother after a two-year separation – prompting Instagram users to ask why she still lives so modestly despite his incredible wealth.

One blasted: “Take your glasses off. Button up that shirt. You’ve got so much money, you should visit your mom every month. Shame.”

The video has been viewed more than seven million times and amassed nearly 30,000 comments.

It is just the latest in a string of talked-about incidents involving Salt Bae. Here, we’ve rounded up six other occasions when he has been under the spotlight, from billing disputes to copycats.

Raging like a Red Bull in London

Nusr-Et Steakhouse in West London hit headlines in September when a group of diners were stung with a £1,812 ($2,407) bill for their meal – including £44 for four Red Bulls and £630 for a gold-coated tomahawk steak.

A picture of the group’s receipt from the Knightsbridge spot caused outrage on Twitter, with users incredulous at the £100 golden burger and £18 single onion flower.

Two Diet Cokes cost £18, Red Bull was priced at £11 a can and a virgin mojito for the same cost.

“I think there’s a line where high restaurant prices stop being rip-offs and becomes a kind of performance art, and I think Salt Bae’s new London restaurant has soared past it,” said one Twitter user.

Boston forces Gocke to keep selfie hunters at Bae

If you blinked, you would’ve missed the Boston branch of Nusr-Et’s opening as it was shut after only a week.

Inspectors pulled the new restaurant up on several violations including fridge and dishwasher temperatures, Covid-19 concerns and the blocking of fire escapes.

Salt Bae’s 16th spot opened to queues of hungry Americans on September 18 last year, only to fall foul of nine rules and be forced to close.

A court heard how nearby residents complained about Gocke taking selfies with the crowd without socially distancing. Police were even called to the restaurant after a flurry of accusations.

“We're just very apologetic and want to make sure we work co-operatively with the board, with the police department, with [the Boston Inspectional Services Department],” said the restaurant’s lawyer Dennis Quilty.

The branch was allowed to reopen the following month so long as Salt Bae agreed to be chaperoned around the restaurant by a manager to stop selfie hunters from surrounding him.

Florida cops called as $5,000 bill takes shine off golden feast

Yet another golden steak, yet another social media storm.

Duane Miranda, his wife and two other couples dined at the Florida branch of Nusr-Et in December 2019. However, Miranda gulped when the $5,000 bill arrived.

Despite eating two of the famous 24-karat gold tomahawks and a gold leaf-wrapped rack of lamb, Miranda refused to pay.

He told staff they did not order the golden versions and mistakenly thought their standard $275 tomahawks were served that way.

In a furious Facebook rant, he wrote: “When the bill came, we were shocked by the total. They insisted that we ordered the ‘Golden’ option and charged us $1,000 for each.

“We absolutely DID NOT order the golden option.”

Cops were called to diffuse the situation.

Miranda eventually split the tab with his party, before branding Salt Bae a “communist lover” and taking both tomahawk bones home – claiming one was for his dog and the other was to be tested to see if the gold really was 24K.

Artist sues for copyright woes

Earlier this year, it was revealed that Salt Bae is facing a $5m copyright lawsuit from a US artist who alleges the star has used his artwork across the world without permission.

Brooklyn artist Logan Hicks says he and fellow artist Joseph Iurato were hired by Salt Bae to create a mural of him "in his signature salt-sprinkling pose", according to the tabloid New York Post.

While the first work appeared in his Miami steakhouse, other commissioned stencils have since been seen in the chef's Dubai, Doha, Istanbul and New York outposts, say the court papers.

Early in 2020, Hicks discovered Gokce and his companies had used their image without permission internationally, in window displays, on menus and even on takeout bags, according to the suit.

'Green Onion Bae'

A Vietnamese noodle seller found himself in hot soup last month after parodying Salt Bae’s flamboyant serving style.

Bui Tuan Lam caught the eye of authorities in Vietnam with a tongue-in-cheek video imitating Salt Bae’s swagger, exaggerated knife antics and, of course, his famous sprinkling action, in which Lam substitutes salt for spring onions.

Lam or “Green Onion Bae”, as he labelled himself, was summoned for investigation by police, with a BBC report suggesting he was in trouble for being critical of the ruling Communist Party of Vietnam.

The noodle seller later clarified his post was merely a cheeky advertising stunt, though it is unclear whether he has been charged with any wrongdoing.

Let’s be Franck: Ribery’s Twitter outburst

Footballer Franck Ribery discovered there’s no such thing as a free dinner after his complimentary Dubai meal left him facing a hefty fine.

The French star, who was plying his trade with German giants Bayern Munich at the time in January 2019, shared a picture of himself tucking into Salt Bae’s famous golden tomahawk.

His Twitter video of being served the steak, which reportedly cost $340, attracted several negative comments from fans online.

However, furious Ribery hit back with an expletive-laden message, branding trolls “jealous” and “haters”.

His outburst horrified his club bosses, with Bayern’s sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic docking his wages.

“He used words that we cannot accept and that Franck does not have the right to use, as a role model and player," he said.

The free supper was served by Salt Bae himself after he invited Ribery to his Dubai restaurant.

The true cost was never revealed, however it is not uncommon for football clubs to fine misbehaving players one or two weeks' wages under disciplinary procedures.

In 2019, Ribery earned about $274,308 per week, according to

Updated: June 23, 2023, 12:23 PM