The Turkish Ministry for Culture and Tourism announced that it was selecting restauranteur Salt Bae to be part of a new public relations campaign, Sol TV reported on Monday.
Salt Bae, whose actual name is Nusret Gökçe, was included among 19 other chefs to be part of this drive. Gökçe is best known for spawning a viral internet meme based on an video he posted on Instagram called “Ottoman steak” in which he “suavely” cut a piece of meat and sprinkled salt over it.
This video propelled him to fame after gaining 10 million views on Instagram. His restaurant chain Nusr-et has been widely panned in the United States for what critics described as “overpriced” and mundane options. Gökçe has also been criticised by U.S Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) for serving a meal to Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro at his Istanbul restaurant.
In November 2019, Gökçe was accused by four former employees in New York of stealing a portion of their tips and sued him after they were fired for their complaints. Gökçe denied the allegations but settled the case for $230,000 before it went to trial.
Nusr-Et received up to $4 million in COVID-19 relief under the Paycheck Protection Plan (PPP) passed by the U.S Congress in March 2020. His restaurant in Boston was forced to shut down temporarily for violating the state’s pandemic restrictions.