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Turkey's Best Asset: #SaltBae

Turkey has the hottest, most sensual butcher, chef/restaurateur ever. His name is Nusret Gökçe, and his Instagram videos have now gone viral. Bruno Mars posted a photo of them together last week. Then James Corden did the hilarious clip above, which pretty much sums him up. He's been dubbed #SaltBae on Twitter (reflecting his signature move with salting meat.) Here's his Twitter page. You can scroll also through his posted Instagram photos and videos. He now has a million and a half Instagram followers and Corden's clip has been seen more than 1 million times.

He's been prominent in Turkey and Dubai for a while -- he and his partners own a chain of steakhouses called Nusret ET with restaurants in Istanbul and other places in Turkey, and in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. (The resturants' instagram account adds "soon the world.")[More...]

Aside from being absurdly good looking, he's like a chameleon. He is definitely impressed with The Godfather and can morph between Al Pacino , (also see here) and Marlon Brando. He can also appear to be a a Cuban revolutionary, a construction worker hammering concrete, and of course a butcher. From some You Tube videos I watched, he seems to stay in shape by jumping rope and boxing (as well as lifting and sawing through heavy meat, working with the animals and at construction sites. His biceps are amazing.)

But it's his sensual skills with meat and his razor sharp knives that make him mesmerizing. I read that one of his sharpest knives comes from Brazil.)

So, is he married? Bustle took a stab at finding out, but concluded no one seems to be sure. There's a photo of him with 9 kids on the restaurant's Instagram page with a caption that reads, "The man who does not spend time with his family is not a real man." But I doubt they are his kids. He's only 33, and in a 2010 interview, he said he didn't have time to find a girlfriend, he works 18 hours a day. He also wasn't married as of the 2013 interview. More likely they are his nieces and nephews.

But he does seem to be in love now with a beautiful model named Candy Denat who lives in Dubai. As of two months ago, they were reportedly very much in love and photographed at high-fashion events together.

The newest Nusr-ET restaurant in Abu Dhabi is at the Galleria on Al Maryah Island. The restaurant in Dubai is at the Four Seasons Hotel. Nusr himself may be at one of the two UAE places this week, as in the past two days, two diners have posted videos of him cutting their meat at their table. (here and here.)

One article I read says he flies back and forth between Turkey and the UAE weekly and is a frequent sight at restaurants in both countries. In addition to steak houses, there are El Nusr-Et burger restaurants, including one in Dubai at the Riverland in the Boardwalk District. (Any errors on this are likely mine from translation, not the source articles. I'm not sure I even knew the difference between Abu Dhabi and Dubai until reading about Nusret.)

Clearly, he's not just a butcher or a chef, but quite skilled at implementing successful business models for restaurants and at customer relations. He seems to enjoy taking photos with all the diners, famous or not. That he's still cutting meat at diners' tables after all these years is pretty remarkable.

Here's a combined version of some videos from Nusr-Et's Instagram page:

So who is he really? This 2013 interview in his own words is probably the best of the many I read yesterday. He is the son of a miner who began working in restaurants with his brother when he was 12. He didn't like school or reading and couldn't afford to stay in school past primary school. (Again, any errors are likely mine from translation, not the source articles.)

He was born in Erzurum in 1983, and the family moved to Darica when he was 2. He has four siblings. His first job after primary school was for a butcher named Abim Bostancı in Günaydın. He then worked at a few restaurants, before heading to Argentina in 2007 to study meat.(He learned about cooking meat and meat-resting there.) He returned to Turkey, and then in 2010, went to New York. But his work visa applications were rejected four times. (He had a three month tourist visa which it sounds like he over-stayed.)

He worked at 3 or 4 steakhouses in New York. He visited many more, and was taken with the concept of the open kitchen that are part of his restaurants' designs today. He told the interviewer:

I was in America in 2010. I am on visa application but I do not have any money on my account, I have a registered home, no property, I am not married. I was rejected four times. I have been in newspapers and magazines several times after Argentina. I gave them a three-month visa. The menu I made in the US was published in the New York Times. I ran a fugitive without getting paid at four of New York's leading restaurants.

He had a lot of offers from wealthy customers to open his own restaurant. In 2010, he opened the first Nusr-ET with partner Mithat Erdem. In 2012, Nusr-ET partnered with Ferit Şahenk of Doğuş Holding. In 2012, Dogus launched D.Ream (Doğuş Restaurant Entertainment and Management) which owns a big chunk of the restaurants and manages them. In 2014, they were planning on restaurants in New York and London,but I don't think either has happened yet. A 2015 article says Qatar is also contemplated.

In 2015 (in addition to opening in Dubai) he and partner Erdem planned to open a champagne and cigar bar. I'm not sure if they did, but through Dogus, they did buy the property. And in 2015, they opened a Kebab restaurant called Kebapçi with Ferit Şahenk of Doğuş Holding.

Nusret seems very supportive of Turkey -- his instagram feed has several photos of him with the Turkish flag. Since Turkey is now in the process of approving a new constitution that will increase President Erdoğan's power, which certainly will not be popular with many in Turkey and elsewhere, Erdogan could use some image bolstering right now. He might want to give Nusret Gökçe a call. A photo op with Nusret could give him a boost -- certainly more so than the numerous photos floating around showing Erdogan posing with Putin. (I couldn't find a single one of them together, although I did find one of Nusret posing with a diner who was Erdogan's opponent in a prior election and lost.)

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