A group of major investors are close to completing the purchase of a minority stake in restaurant group D.ream, owned by Turkish conglomerate Dogus Group.
Should the deal go ahead, the investment group will buy in to 45 brands, 170 restaurants and one extremely popular internet personality.
Among D.ream’s brands is the Nusr-Et steakhouse chain, the first of which was set up by social media chef Nusret Gokce, better known as Salt Bae, in Istanbul in 2010.
The purchase will involve three major investment firms the Financial Times reports, including heavy-hitting Singaporean company Temasek, which has a $275 billion portfolio with stakes in Alibaba, Singapore Airlines and Mediacorp.
The deal also involved fellow Singaporean company GIC ($100 billion in assets) and London-based firm Metric Capital ($2 billion).
Included in the deal are global restaurant chains such as Coya, Zuma and Roka, which have establishments around the world.
Who is internet personality Salt Bae?
Regardless of the high-profit restaurants that D.ream owns, Salt Bae will be the main attraction with his suave slicing and sensual salting techniques.
Gokce learnt these skills working as an apprentice at a local butcher shop from the age of 13. He then travelled to Argentina to master meat before returning to Turkey in 2010 to open the first Nusr-Et stakehouse.
After feeding Turkish billionaire Ferit Sahenk, the eighth richest man in Turkey and chairman of Dogus Holding, the group invested heavily in Gokce, allowing him to open establishments in Dubai, Doha and Ankara.
After seven years of moderate success, Gokce got his big break thanks to social media.
How Nusret Gokce became Salt Bae
Wearing a tight white t-shirt and gold-rimmed glasses, Gokce rose to fame in January 2017 after he posted a video to the Nusr-Et Twitter page showing him preparing a steak.
It was his unusual way of applying salt that caught the attention of social media users. Soon after releasing the video he was dubbed “Salt Bae”. By the following day, celebrities and social media stars were engaging with the video, which pushed its view count to 2.4 million within 48 hours.
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 16.2 million views.
Salt Bae’s chain now attracts the crème de la crème. The likes of Leonardo DiCaprio, Drake, DJ Khaled and David Beckham have eaten at Nusr-Et following Gokce’s rise to fame.
Gokce has embraced his new persona, having amassed 12.5 million followers across Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
He still visits the kitchens at Nusr-Et. However, he must now split his time between working, Instagram photoshoots and hanging out with his new celebrity companions, such as rapper-turned-businessman P Diddy.