What Happened to American Vegan Chef Sarma Melngailis?

Once upon a time, an American chef, cookbook author, and businesswoman named Sarma Melngailis was at the height of her career. However, everything came crashing down following her arrest in 2016.

In 2016, both Melngailis and her then-husband, Anthony Strangis, were arrested in Sevierville, Tennessee. According to People magazine, right after Melngailis and Strangis got married, all the money that Melngailis’ restaurant business was making, was going right into Strangis’ pocket. Furthermore, Strangis threatened his wife that she’d lose everything if she stopped.

Vanity Fair reported that Melngailis transferred more than $1.6 million from her business to her personal account. Furthermore, her husband spent $1.2 million from the abovementioned amount in Connecticut casinos.

In addition to this, the same report claimed, Melngailis’ husband promised to give her a large sum of money in order to “become independent of meddling investors, help anyone she wanted, and pay off her debts [including more than $1 million to the original backer of Pure Food and Wine]”

Because of the couple’s stealing, Melngailis could not pay wages to their restaurant’s staff. People working with or for her, unionized and quit their jobs. In 2015, she vanished from the scene. At that time, she was wanted for fraud and violation of labor laws.

What is Netfix’s Sarma Melngailis docuseries about?

In 2022, Netflix released a docuseries titled, Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. It covered the story of this infamous couple and how they committed fraud.

The synopsis of Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. according to its trailer on YouTube reads, “A scandalous four-part documentary series that uncovers how Sarma Melngailis, the celebrity restaurateur behind the New York hotspot Pure Food and Wine, went from being the queen of vegan cuisine to the tabloid-touted “Vegan Fugitive” when she falls for a man who promises to make her dreams come true.” It further reads, “Millions of dollars, immortal dogs, meat suits, and secrets lead to a twisted tale of love turned criminal. Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.”

Executive producers of Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. were Ryann Fraser, Chris Smith, and Mark Emms.

Where is Selman Melngailis now?

Following her arrest, the Brooklyn Supreme Court offered her a plea deal. According to Forbes, she spent four months in prison. In an interview with Newsweek 90, she revealed that she was unhappy with Netflix’s Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives. She said that her words had been twisted and taken completely out of context.

She said, “I trusted them. All along, I said I wanted the product to be honest and useful, and I wanted whatever they used to be used in a way that was honest and useful. So it’s not like I handed them specific little clips of text messages and audio. I just gave them everything, including my entire journal. And I thought, you know, perhaps they’d make mistakes, because the story is really confusing, sure. But if they did, they would be honest mistakes. And that certainly wasn’t the case at all.”

According to Parade, Selman Melngailis currently resides in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood. Furthermore, she is active on social media websites, like Instagram, Facebook, and X (formerly Twitter).

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