Why Some TikTokers Don't Think Salt Bae Is Actually Worth The Hype

Some may wonder how a man has grown an international restaurant empire based on the somewhat flamboyant way he sprinkles salt upon a cooking steak. Yet Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae, exists and has enjoyed a wildly lucrative career for these very reasons.

However, even though he's been the poplar cultural phenomenon seen in many a meme, there have been signs of growing discontent for the hype garnered by the culinary personality. In a couple of videos posted by @feastkings on TikTok, there are a series of questions frequently asked by followers that flash across the screen as clips of Salt Bae performing his signature salt waterfall play in the background. The first video featured questions about what a steak dinner costs at one of his restaurants (answer: $1,000) and how much his overall net worth is (estimated to be $70 million). The second video asked if the meal was worth $1,000 and if the food was good, in which the TikTok poster surprisingly declared "no" to both.

The comments section showed that followers are likewise unimpressed. "Salt Bae is overrated," one person wrote. Another noted, "All of the salt is going to his elbow. Imagine if he didn't wash it." Not many bothered to defend the man that's famous for literally salting steak, hinting that perhaps the empire is starting to crumble.

Comments weren't exactly kind for Salt Bae

Others in the comment section of @feastkings TikTok videos compared Salt Bae to the caliber of other famous chefs: "He doesn't even come close to Gordon Ramsay or Jamie Oliver," said one person. And a few others commented on the outrageous prices: "I could eat steak all year long for that price" says one follower while another piped in, "I'll just go to Texas Roadhouse."

Of course, opinions about his food and technique are one thing, but as previously reported, Salt Bae also faces multiple lawsuits as a restaurant owner that involve the restaurateur allegedly not paying the money he was contracted to pay and some questionable employment practices. The most recent of these, which was reported by CNBC on August 17, concerned five Turkish grillers that Salt Bae seems to have relocated to his New York restaurant for the sake of "[avoiding] paying them legally required overtime pay ... while requiring them to work 70 hours or more per week." 

Moreover, during the unrest raised by the coronavirus pandemic and the George Floyd protests, Salt Bae was alleged to have his workers live in the establishment as a measure against vandalism. This, the piece notes, is two years after Salt Bae lost a case in New York when he was sued by his waitstaff for being fired after they questioned the way he divided tips. 

With such negative publicity constantly hanging around him, now even on TikTok, things aren't looking great for the salt pourer.