If there's one thing that Netflix does exceptionally well it's documentaries. Throw in an almost unbelievable story, a cast of bizarre characters and a major conspiracy and you have all the ingredients for another mega hit.
And that's exactly what you get with Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.
From Chris Smith, the executive producer of Tiger King and director of Fyre: The Greatest Party that Never Happened, comes the story of celebrity restaurateur Sarma Melngailis, once hailed as the queen of vegan cuisine.
This crazy four-part docuseries explores how Sarma Melngailis, the chef behind Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck, went from being the queen of vegan food to the “Vegan Fugitive.”
So what happened? Basically, she met Anthony Strangis (also known as “Shane Fox”) and that was the beginning of the end.
Bad Vegan delves deep into the fact that Sarma Melngailis was pretty much brainwashed by Strangis who conned her out of a fortune by convincing her that he held the key to making her every dream come true.
Shortly after meeting him on Twitter in 2011, Melngailis started draining her restaurant’s funds and funnelling the money to Shane Fox.
He promised he could do everything from expanding her food empire to making her beloved pitbull immortal but only if she obeyed his every request without question.
And she did. So much so that she ended up closing her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine in 2015 after staff walked out en masse due to owed wages.
After stealing nearly $2 million from the restaurant and its staff, the by then married Melngailis and Strangis became fugitives before being found in a Tennessee motel by police.
What got caught? Strangis paying for a Domino's pizza. You couldn't make it up!
Is Bad Vegan Worth Watching?
Oh yes it is! Bad Vegan Netflix is an absolute must for fans with a true crime obsession.
It is more bizarre than fiction and will have you glued from beginning to end.
I mean, it has it all – celebrities, conspiracies, con men, fugitives and enough details to make you shake your head wondering what on earth Sarma Melngailis was thinking when she hooked up with Anthony Strangis!
Bad Vegan Release Date On Netflix
Bad Vegan, the story of the vegan Bernie Madoff who defrauded her restaurant, Pure Food and Wine, will be released by Netflix on March 16th, 2022.
Who Is Sarma Melngailis?
Sarma Melngailis is the former owner and co-founder of Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck, both vegan raw food restaurants in New York City.
Born and raised in Massachusetts, her interest in food came from her mother, a professional chef. After graduating with a B.S. in Economics from the Wharton School, she moved to New York City and in 1998 joined CIBC.
She soon left and enrolled at New York's French Culinary Institute from which she graduated in 1999.
In 2001 she opened Commissary with her then-boyfriend chef Matthew Kenney. It closed in March 2003, and in June 2004 they, along with Jeffrey Chodorow, opened Pure Food and Wine as NYC's first upscale raw food restaurant.
By 2011 she had met her gambler husband and by 2015 had stolen over $2m from her business and was on the run as a fugitive.
When they were finally caught, the two were accused by the Brooklyn District Attorney’s Office of fraud in 2016 and convicted in 2017.
She spent a few months in jail but is now free and is interviewed in this documentary series for Netflix.
What Happened To Pure Wine and Food?
The story of Bad Vegan, from creator Chris Smith, follows the owner of Pure Wine and Food, the first high end, upscale vegan restaurant in New York.
Its initial success meant it was highly frequented by celebrities like Woody Harrelson, Alec Baldwin and Owen Wilson.
But after Melngailis met her husband in 2011, everything started to go wrong. She stole millions of dollars from the restaurant and failed to pay her employees on multiple occasions.
Eventually, the staff walked out, and the restaurant eventually closed in 2015. It never re-opened.