What Actually Makes Salt Bae's Restaurants Obscenely Expensive

Nobody managed to take the food world by storm quite like Nusret Gökce, a.k.a. Salt Bae. It's been a long time since 2017 when the chef, uh, flamboyantly seasoned a massive steak. Since then, he's managed to use his internet fame to transform his Istanbul restaurant Nusr-Et into a global franchise — although his expansion plans have the internet divided.

For one, his restaurants' prices are out of this world. At the London location, one group of four diners racked up a $50,000 bill that left Twitter stunned. Why the sky-high prices? Likely, due to the reason the restaurant exists in the first place: Salt Bae's personal celebrity status. "You're paying to fleetingly become part of the Salt Bae brand," cultural critic Kate Ng wrote for the Independent after Nusr-Et originally opened in London in 2021. Simply put, diners at Salt Bae's restaurants can post on social media and brag to friends about the experience — and Salt Bae can profit off that opportunity.

Food and celebrity are intertwined in so many contexts — just take the rapidly growing trend of all those celeb-owned alcohol brands. While Salt Bae's personal fame certainly helps inflate the prices at his restaurants, the food's opulence itself is integral to the brand.

Salt Bae's opulent food is part of his expensive brand

At Nusr-Et, the restaurant chain owned by internet sensation Salt Bae, the menu is intentionally geared toward the super-rich. Its signature item, infamously, is a massive four-pound Tomahawk steak — truthfully, just a bone-in ribeye — encrusted in 24-karat gold. At Nusret Gökce's restaurant in Boston, the steak will run you $2,200. If there's one thing you should know about edible gold, it's that it's tasteless. So you're not paying for flavor — you're paying for aesthetics. Since ancient times, both edible and artistic gold has been used to publicly broadcast immense wealth.

Nusr-Et's prices show that the restaurant is designed for luxury — but they also demonstrate how the opulence of gold is simply part of Salt Bae's attempts to make money off his own image. By looking at where you can find Salt Bae's gold steak for cheaper, we can calculate precisely how much Salt Bae is charging for the opportunity to be seen consuming his brand.

After Nusr-Et opened in London in 2021, butcher and restaurateur John Stirk cheekily introduced a version of the gold tomahawk steak, too — not for $1,070 (£850), Salt Bae's price at the time, but for $125 (£100). That's still not cheap, but it underscores that the reason Salt Bae's restaurants are obscenely expensive is because, well, they're Salt Bae's.