GIC and Temasek in talks to buy stake in viral sensation Salt Bae’s steakhouse

Luxurious restaurant chain Nusr-Et Steakhouse could come under new ownership soon as a consortium of investors, including Singapore’s Temasek and GIC, are reportedly closing in on a $1.5-billion deal, according to the Financial Times.

The Financial Times reported on 7th March 2018 that Temasek, GIC and Metric Capital, a London-based investment firm, are in talks over the potential purchase of D.ream Group, a subsidiary of Dogus Group, which owns the restaurants.

The investment would include about US$200 million of equity, and would also involve the restaurants Coya, Zuma and Roka, the FT reported.

Temasek, GIC and Metric Capital declined to comment on the report.

Salt Bae is the nickname of butcher and chef Nusret Gokce, whose videos depict him chopping meat and then adding seasoning in a theatrical manner, a move which is also called a “Salt Bae”.

2017+2018=Better years Ahead of us#saltbae #saltlife #salt

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

Dressed in a tight white t-shirt with gold-rimmed glasses, Chef Gokce rose to fame in January 2017 after he posted a video to the Nusr-Et Twitter page showing him preparing a steak. His unusual way of applying salt in the video caught the attention of social media users who soon dubbed him “Salt Bae”. The original video has since amassed 11 million views on Twitter, as well as 99,000 retweets and 124,000 likes. The same video on Instagram has garnered 16.2 million views.

Ottoman steak 🔪

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

Netizens went hysterical for the flair and flourish at the way Salt Bae cuts and salts his steak.

#saltbae #salt#saltlife

A post shared by Nusr_et#Saltbae (@nusr_et) on

Chef Gokce learnt his suave slicing and sensual salting techniques working as an apprentice at a local butcher shop from the tender age of 13. He then travelled to Argentina to master meat before returning to Turkey to open the first Nusr-Et steakhouse in Istanbul in 2010.

After feeding Turkish billionaire Ferit Sahenk, the eighth richest man in Turkey and chairman of Dogus Holding, the group invested heavily in chef Gokce.

Today, Nusr-Et has restaurants in New York, Miami, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. Salt Bae’s chain now attracts celebrities like Leonardo DiCaprio, Drake, DJ Khaled and David Beckham, while chef Gokce has amassed 12.5 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

The key rationale behind purchasing restaurants like Nusr-Et is that they are seen as luxury chains and have reduced exposure to parts of the market where other brands have struggled, said a source quoted by the Financial Times.

These high-end restaurants also have “cachet and a strong brand”, said Johnny Colville, managing director of the financial sponsors group in Europe for Houlihan Lokey, as reported by FT.