Venezuela's President Nicolas Maduro demonstrates his Salt Bae sprinkling technique during a press conference at the Miraflores Presidential Palace.
Yusnaby Pérez, a journalist in Venezuela, posted a video of Maduro's meal with the caption "I wonder how every Venezuelan Chavista will feel tomorrow when they have to return to the daily titanic queue", a reference to the huge lines where people in Venezuela regularly wait for food.
Gokce, a worldwide restaurateur better known by his nickname Salt Bae, posted the videos on his Instagram account seen by some 16 million followers alongside photos of him serving clients like Argentine soccer legend Diego Maradona and posing as Don Corleone from the "Godfather" movies. Since then, Rubio has pushed for tougher sanctions against the Latin American country, has encouraged a military coup against Maduro, and has spoke in favor of U.S. military intervention in Venezuela.
Venezuela's economy has been in free fall in recent years with many people living in poverty and suffering from malnutrition.
President Maduro spoke about the now-controversial lunch during a televised news conference, confirming that he had eaten there during his stopover from China.
"I don't know who this weirdo (hash) Saltbae is, but the guy he is so proud to host is not the President of Venezuela". "This is a once in a lifetime moment", he can be heard saying to other diners.
The video quickly went viral, becoming a global trend before it was deleted from Instagram.
"Chavismo is asking China to borrow money because you can't pay your debts and then going to luxury restaurants", wrote social media expert Luis Carlos Diaz on Twitter in a broadside at Maduro's left-wing populist politics adopted from late predecessor Hugo Chavez. According to the Herald, a single steak at Nusr-Et Steakhouse, Gokce's Miami restaurant, costs $275.
Maduro said he had hoped to attend to the U.N. General Assembly in NY, which he hasn't since 2015, to combat what he called a hate campaign directed against his socialist government from the U.S.