Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro sparked outrage in his crisis-hit country after he was filmed eating in an upscale steak restaurant in Istanbul, Turkey.
The video shows Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gokce, also known as “Salt Bae” carving meat in front of President Maduro and his wife, Cilia Flores, at Gokce’s Nusr-Et restaurant in Istanbul.
Almost two-thirds of Venezuelans have reported losing weight as shortages of food worsened in recent years.
Red meat is especially scarce.
Chef Nusret Gokce posted three videos of Nicolas Maduro’s visit on Instagram, but has since deleted them.
The chef, who has been dubbed Salt Bae for his stylized way of sprinkling salt on his meat, is seen carving meat in front of the couple with dramatic flair.
President Maduro can be heard saying: “This is a once in a lifetime moment.”
Other videos show President Maduro smoking a cigar taken from a box with his name engraved on a plaque, and his wife holding up a T-shirt with the chef’s image.
Nusret Gokce owns several luxurious restaurants in the US, the Middle East and Turkey, and videos of him carving meat have been watched by millions of people.
The chef’s restaurants sell some cuts of meat for several hundred dollars.
Nicolas Maduro and his wife were in Istanbul on a stop-over from China, where the president was trying to drum up investment.
The videos were shared widely by critics of Nicolas Maduro.
Opposition leader Julio Borges, who is living outside Venezuela for fear of arrest, tweeted: “While Venezuelans suffer and die of hunger, Nicolás Maduro and Cilia Flores have a good time in one of the most expensive restaurants in the world, all with money stolen from the Venezuelan people.”
In Venezuela, 64% of people have reported losing significant amounts of weight, 24lbs on average, amid worsening food shortages.
Child malnutrition is at record levels and 2.3 million people have left Venezuela since 2014.
Nicolas Maduro spoke about the now-controversial lunch during a TV news conference, confirming that he had eaten there during his stopover from China.
He said: “Nusret attended to us personally. We were chatting, having a good time with him.”
President Maduro also said that chef Nusret Gokce had told him that “he loves Venezuela”. The chef has not commented.