Salt Bae Leaves Venezuelans Salty


Mercedes Debesa

Salt Bae sparked great protests in Venezuela.

Daniela Parra Del Riego, Staff Writer


Miami Times
The original Salt Bae meme depicts Gökçe seasoning meat at his restaurants.

Salt Bae was an internet sensation; the video of him seasoning meat turned him into an instantly recognizable meme. Nusret Gökçe (his real name) is a chef from Turkey, who after being forgotten by the Internet, began to focus on his own chain of restaurants in cities like Ankara, New York City, and even here in Miami. A combination of the high-end menu, the elegant decoration, and the internet fame has made the “Nusr-Et” restaurant chain a sensation. However, there has been some recent controversy surrounding Gökçe, which stems from a video released that shows him serving Venezuelan president Nicolás Maduro.

The seemingly positive video shows Gökçe seasoning meat for the president at the Istanbul location and then cuts to Maduro smoking a cigar and admiring a shirt with the Salt Bae meme on the front. Soon though, the dots connect and the fact that this is the dictator of a starving nation being served by a gourmet chef sets in. Many felt anger because Gökçe should not have willingly served the Venezuelan President when Venezuela is currently going through an economic crisis which, as a result, has many Venezuelans in poverty and starvation. The original video has since been removed from Gökçe’s twitter, but copies are still circulating the internet.

”The situation in Venezuela is terrible. My country is going hungry, while the president is eating gourmet food daily. Salt Bae should not have served him; social media icons need to be responsible of their online presence and they should realize that by serving someone who oppresses a whole country, they do not set a good example,” sophomore Isabella Villaroel said.

By serving Maduro food, Salt Bae has brought loads of criticism upon himself which have taken many forms, including protests. On September 19th, passionate Venezuelans and allies to the community took to the streets to protest the “Nusr-Et” Miami location. Although a protest might not have been the answer, the message was clear; the public was discontented with what appeared to be Gökçe’s conformity with serving the man at the head of what many experts consider to be one of the worst humanitarian crises of the 21st Century. The protest, lasting an hour and a half, brought together a group of people who had a clearly opposed stance to the terrible effects of the socialist reign over the resource-rich country of Venezuela.

“I found the Salt Bae meme funny at first, but he should have been smarter in the way he handled the whole situation. Maduro is definitely not someone you would want to be associated with if your every step is being watched and judged by the public,” junior William Fay said.

One of Senator Marco Rubio’s many tweets that openly criticize the Maduro Regime.

The situation in Venezuela is definitely not news to many Americans – many American politicians have openly criticized what Maduro has been doing since he set foot in office. On September 17th, Marco Rubio, the Senate representative for Florida, openly tweeted criticism towards both Gökçe and Maduro, calling the President “an overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition.”

Although Salt Bae’s intention was probably not to stir the boiling hot political pot, the media’s interpretation of the video he posted was definitely anything but neutral. It is highly possible that this was not the chef’s intention. He may have seen Maduro as another public image simply eating at his restaurant, and that this would make for good publicity. However, his one small action had many repercussions. By serving Maduro, Gökçe has established a level of complacency with a situation that requires immediate action. Gökçe has since not discussed the video on his social media and continues to post videos of him butchering and seasoning meats, which many find even more troubling than the original video. The whole situation could have been handled more efficiently by publishing some sort of statement after having published the video. He also could have avoided the problem altogether by not publishing the video, or doing some research on the atrocities Maduro has committed on his people and reconsidering serving him. Those who live public lives must take responsibility for their actions, which Gökçe has not done- the hasty decision to post the video has led to his public image being tainted forever.