In 2017, Nusret Gokce aka Salt Bae burst onto the world scene when a 36-second video titled ‘Ottoman Steak’ in which Bae seductively cut and salted a piece of meat began gaining traction on social media.
The next morning Bruno Mars Tweeted a picture of Salt Bae with the caption, “Annndddd I’m Out,” and within 48-hours ‘Ottoman Steak‘ had amassed an impressive 2.8 million views. Today it’s been viewed almost 17 million times.
With that huge exposure Salt Bae was born. But let’s take a look at how the man behind the meme got here.
Nurset was born in a small city called Erzurum in 1983. His mother was a housewife and father was a coal miner. At the age of 2 the family were forced to move to the coastal town of Darcia as they could no longer afford the rent in Erzurum.
Bae shared a small bedroom with his brothers Ugur, Erman and Ozgur and with no money for education, he was forced to drop out of school aged 13 and eventually was offered an apprenticeship at his local butcher.
Bae put in crazy hours to learn all he could about meat and even volunteered to pick up supplies from local vendors so that he could forge relationships with farmers.
Eventually Bae saved up enough money to fly to one of the meat-capitals of the world, Buenos Aires, where he worked for free at several leading steakhouses. It was here that his vision for a global chain of steak restaurants emerged.
“Without much money, I travelled to Argentina to see the meat industry and after that, I wanted to travel to the United States but I was refused a visa five or six times, but I never gave up and eventually received my visa in late 2009,” Bae told NBC.
He returned to Istanbul and opened a tiny restaurant with just 8 tables. One day a wealthy Turkish businessman called Ferit Sahenk came in and was so impressed with the quality of food and cooking, he invested in Bae.
With this injection of capital Nurset opened up a further branch in Istanbul and expanded to Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Then he dropped the ‘Ottoman Steak’ video.
Within a year, Gokce had 13 restaurants across the globe and employed 600 people. He’d also amassed a huge 15 million followers on Instagram which, inevitably, led to a plethora of celebrities clambering to visit Bae’s steakhouses.
Leonardo DiCaprio, Drake, Odell Beckham Jr, Tom Brady, Cristiano Ronaldo and Mark Wahlberg are just a few of the famous faces that have been pictured with Bae.
To his credit, Bae hasn’t yet any of the fame or attention throw him off track. He told NBC, “My life hasn’t changed that much. I still keep going to work from early morning to late at night every day.”
It seems to be working as today his global restaurant empire it said to be valued in the billions and Bae’s personal wealth is somewhere around $50 million. He’s just about to launch his latest restaurant in London and has recently purchased his first hotel.
His remarkable rise to fame is wonderful inspiration for all of us. It goes to show that even if you’re born into disadvantaged circumstances if you put the work in and never stop believing you can make it all the way to the top.
What’s next for Bae? World domination.