Salt Bae speaks, and is also getting sued

The man collects lawsuits like Precious Moments figurines.

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Nusret Gökçe, aka Salt Bae, winning an award
Photo: John Phillips (Getty Images)

Reading the news is a terrible way to start the day, but every so often, a ray of light manages to break through all the stories about climate change and robots. I am speaking, of course, about the shimmering, golden glimmer of Salt Bae, who just spoke for the first time and got slapped with a new lawsuit.

Salt Bae is a gift that keeps on giving; a maestro of core strength, bachelor father of 13, and the face of a global chain of obscenely expensive restaurants. There is little he can do that cannot be spun into comedy gold. I have no idea where to even start with this morning’s bounty of ridiculousness. Here’s a quick rundown to get you up to speed:

Salt Bae speaks!

The internet has been officially stunned by footage of Salt Bae speaking out loud directly to his fans, and here’s the proof:


Breathless coverage of this earth-shattering event has been popping up all over the stunned (STUNNED!) internet, which is rather remarkable as there’s a site on the internet called “YouTube” that has many videos of Salt Bae speaking throughout the years, like this one of a pull-up contest between Mr. Bae and Dr. Oz. (He doesn’t speak a whole lot, but he makes each word count.)

Salt Bae’s getting sued... again!

The New York Post reports that Salt Bae’s Nusr-et Steakhouse is facing two brand new lawsuits in New York City, which happens so frequently that it’s barely news. If you ever visit one of Nusr-et Steakhouse’s 15 locations, you can safely assume that every single employee will eventually be suing Salt Bae for one reason or another.


In this latest lawsuit, two former Nusr-et employees claim that Turkish workers were treated better at the restaurant than Hispanic workers; each are seeking $500,000 in damages.

Waiter Angelo Maher claims he was regularly put in less lucrative sections of the restaurant than Turkish employees and was kept in the dark about how the restaurant’s tip pool was distributed among the front of house staff. As documented in the lawsuit, when Maher brought this up to his manager, he was told to “Stop with this tip-pool stuff cause I’m telling you, you are on your final warning, just stay neutral.”

In response to Maher’s complaint, management began assigning him to the worst-tipping tables in the house and sending him home early on shifts. The good news that can be inferred from this is that there are Nusr-et guests who are tipping, as the lawsuit also alleges that when Salt Bae’s celebrity friends drop in, servers are expected to forgo tips.

And it gets worse! Maher alleges in his lawsuit that he was physically assaulted at least twice by the restaurant’s Turkish employees and was slapped across the face by his manager. Maher was also required to lie to guests about Nusr-et’s steaks being certified as Halal, which he claims is not true.


Meanwhile, in a separate lawsuit, bartender Elizabeth Cruz alleges she was sexualized by her managers in a way her Turkish coworkers weren’t; in one specific instance mentioned in the filing, Cruz came into work wearing her uniform, but was ordered to go home to change into a short skirt, high-heels, and cleavage-bearing top.

As quoted in the lawsuit, Cruz’s manager allegedly said, “My wife is Dominican, I know how you women are” and that “was suggesting that Ms. Cruz was sexually promiscuous due to her heritage.” After a few weeks of being forced to wear demeaning outfits, Cruz alleges that she asked her manager if she could return to wearing the standard uniform and was fired a few days later.


Though our previous Salt Bae coverage indicates that this sort of high-profile lawsuit is nothing new for the chef’s empire, people continue flocking to Nusr-et steakhouses to drop thousands of dollars on gold-leaf-wrapped steaks and $30 cocktails.

Guess I’m back to being depressed about the news again. Thanks a lot, Salt Bae.