IMAGINE the New York elite at your feet with your chic vegan restaurant.
Then in no time all is lost and you become a criminal on the run – meet Sarma Melngailis.
Who is Sarma Melngailis?
Sarma Melngailis is a former restaurant owner who was convicted of fraud in 2017 after pleading guilty to stealing over $200,000 from an investor and plotting a scam.
In 2004, she opened Pure Food and Wine in New York with her then-boyfriend, chef Matthew Kenney, and restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow.
It was so popular that Anne Hathaway, Alec Baldwin, Stevie Wonder and other celebrities have been known to dine there.
Sarma then rose to fame in the American cooking world after releasing a cookbook called Raw Food, Real World: 100 Recipes to Get the Glow in 2005.
The restaurant was also named in New York Magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants article and made the Forbes All Star New York Eateries list five years in a row.
Sarma opened a chain of juice bars called One Lucky Duck, as well as an online store under the same name.
But her world changed for the worst when she met and married Anthony Strangis.
The couple continued to steal and defraud their employees and investors.
They were on the run for a year before being tracked down to a Tennessee hotel and arrested for fraud.
In May 2017, Sarma pleaded guilty to stealing over $200,000 from an investor and planning fraud and tax fraud schemes and was sentenced to nearly four months in prison.
She was incarcerated at Rikers Island Prison in New York.
For his part, Strangis pleaded guilty to four counts of fourth-degree theft and was sentenced to one year in prison and five years probation, as well as $840,000 in damages to investors.
Having already spent a year in pre-trial detention, he was able to leave after the verdict was pronounced.
What is the Netflix documentary Bad Vegan about?
Bad Vegan is a four-part documentary series that explores how Sarma Melngailis, the famed restaurateur behind glitzy New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, went from queen of vegan cuisine to vegan fugitive.
The synopsis reads: “Shortly after meeting a man named Shane Fox on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis began siphoning off her restaurant’s funds and forwarding the money to Fox after convincing her he could make her dreams come true – expanding hers Food empire to her beloved Pitbull immortal – a reality… but only if she continues to obey him unconditionally.
“A few years later, the couple, now married and on the run after stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its employees, are found by police hiding in a Tennessee motel.
“Your downfall? A charge brought under Fox’s real name, Anthony Strangis, over a Domino’s pizza.
“Bad Vegan takes viewers on a journey that is more bizarre than fiction.”
The documentary will be released on Netflix on March 16, 2022 at 8 a.m.
Where is Sarma Melngailis now?
Since leaving prison, Sarma has moved to Harlem, where she lives with her dog, Leon.
In May 2018, she filed for divorce for Strangis, according to the New York Daily News.
She told the New York Post that same month that she plans to leave New York City to work on her memoir, but hoped to reopen Pure Food and Wine in the future.
“If there was a magical opportunity to open the same restaurant in the same place, I would do it in a heartbeat,” she said. “I think New York would bring me back.”
What’s on Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime?
Looking for a new Netflix series to binge on or the best movies to watch on Amazon Prime? We’ve got you covered…
https://www.thesun.co.uk/tv/17941371/who-is-sarma-melngailis/ Who is Sarma Melngailis?