Edible gold is many things: literally and metaphorically tasteless. Yet an edible-gold-wrapped steak is also a mirror—hold it up to a man and he will see himself within.
That’s a fancy way of saying: To the British, nothing cuts deeper than class. For complex historical reasons, Britain is a nation obsessed with where people fit in real and imagined social hierarchies, to the point where there’s a pervading myth that anywhere south of Watford is riddled with “the metropolitan elite.” This is possibly why local papers nearly 200 miles from London are having a field day with Salt Bae content, writing stories such as, “Huddersfield Instagram O’Donnell sisters splashed out on £630 steak at Salt Bae’s London restaurant.”
A gold wrapped steak, then, can be neatly used as a dividing line between Us and Them. On September 26, when someone tweeted a receipt showing that someone else had seemingly spent $2,400 in the restaurant, the internet fell into a frenzy, with the tweet gaining nearly 25,000 likes (the receipt’s veracity has never been confirmed). Since then, numerous other (possibly-fake-but-no-one-seems-to-care) Nusr-Et receipts have generated headlines; one claimed to show a $49,000 bill.
The whole thing is a winning formula for clicks, almost as profitable as a $67 cappuccino.
Yet Salt Bae doesn’t just provide content for journalists; his whole schtick is about creating content for his clientele. For the last few weeks, if you ordered a steak at Salt Bae’s London restaurant, it came with a big serving of the man himself, who would dramatically sprinkle salt in front of you and even dangle strips of meat directly into your mouth. If a customer goes to Salt Bae’s restaurant and doesn’t film him slicing their steak, did it even get sliced?
“He is always willing to put on a show for the camera,” says Makiez Arghandewal, a 24-year-old refugee resettlement volunteer from San Francisco who has been to Salt Bae’s Istanbul restaurant “at least a dozen times.” Arghandewal once stayed in the same hotel as Salt Bae and interrupted his gym session to film a video. “He was more than happy to,” she explains. “He is really patient and understands people’s needs for social media content.”