Venezuelan President Maduro met with outrage after steak feast at Salt Bae restaurant
A viral video of Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro feasting on a steak this past week prepared by Turkish celebrity chef “Salt Bae” has gone viral in the wake of the ongoing food shortage back home.
At a time when millions of Venezuelans are skipping meals and losing weight as hyperinflation and an unprecedented economic collapse drive them deeper into poverty, Muduro visited the famed Nusr-Et steakhouse in Istanbul during a brief stop in Turkey on his way home from a trip to China.
Videos show him puffing on a cigar from what appears to be a personalized box as he and first lady Cilia Flores watch owner Nusret Gokce, clad in his signature aviator sunglasses and snug-fitting T-shirt, rock his hips while slicing a long knife into a juicy steak.
— FRANCE 24 English (@France24_en) September 18, 2018
A video of the event was posted by Gokce — a world-renown restarateur better known by the nickname Salt Bae — on his Instagram account and was seen by 16 million followers.
The post was later deleted.
Seemingly too late, the videos ignited criticism for Maduro.
In a TV appearance Monday night, Maduro called the meal a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity” and thanked Gokce for his hospitality, saying he’d see him soon in Caracas.
Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio, who is a fierce critic of Maduro, had no issue pouncing on the president via Twitter.
“I don’t know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of Venezuela. He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition,” Rubio wrote.
I don’t know who this weirdo #Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of #Venezuela . He is actually the overweight dictator of a nation where 30% of the people eat only once a day & infants are suffering from malnutrition. https://t.co/sSNPK9cAAx
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) September 18, 2018
In subsequent Tweets, Rubio noted that Gokce also has a restaurant in Miami, which is home to one of the largest Venezuelan populations in the U.S., most of whom are hostile to Maduro.
— Al Jazeera English (@AJEnglish) September 16, 2018
On social media, Venezuelans shared mocked-up images showing Gokce doing his trade-mark salt sprinkle pose above a skeletal child.
— campanita (@ruapiornais) September 19, 2018
Gokce went viral in 2017 after posting videos of himself salting meat with a cobra-like maneuver. He has over 15 million Instagram followers and has helped launch Nusr-Et restaurants, which charge several hundred dollars for some cuts of meat, in the Middle East, New York and Miami, according to Reuters.