Sarma Melngailis

Sarma Melngailis

Sarma Melngaills is the co-creator of the restaurant Pure Food and Wine and co-author of Raw Food Real World. She is also Chief Duck at - an online raw / organic boutique.

The End Of Gourmet, The Demise Of An Old Friend, And My Shattered Heart

end of gourmet magazine sarma 01 The End Of Gourmet, The Demise Of An Old Friend, And My Shattered Heart

Looking back at the demise of something so dear to my heart. I wrote this post last year as the end was blaring out of the TV, but something this big this important should be shouted from the roof tops, so here is my tribute to not just a magazine, but to an old friend, who for reasons beyond belief, is no longer with us.

Why? Why why why…? It was October 5th 2009, about two weeks ago, I was at the gym, on the treadmill. Loud music blasting in my iPod earphones, CNN on the screen in front of me, both meant to distract me from dwelling on the fact that I’m running on a conveyor belt alongside other people running on conveyor belts. Then I saw it. An image on the TV screen of the cover of the latest issue of Gourmet magazine, and the printed headline, “Gourmet magazine closes after 70 years.” WHAT!? No Way! How is that possible? I’m frantically looking around, for… what… ? I think I was expecting others must have seen this headline and also stopped running out of shock and disbelief, like me. I was thinking I’d see people hugging, comforting one another over the news, shaking their heads. But no, I only saw people still running, pedaling, and the usual sea of heads bobbing up and down in the elliptical section.

I couldn’t keep going. I had to know what happened, so I ran home and checked online and yes, indeed, Conde Nast was shutting down Gourmet. Along with 3 other titles: a cookie magazine and two bridal magazines. I don’t get it. Isn’t there another silly magazine they could shut down? How about Golf World or Golf Digest? Does the world really need both? (or either?) Immediately I emailed my Mom, my Stepmom, and chef Neal, among others, like “OMG, did you hear???” They too were saddened. I wanted to call people and talk about it. I wanted to pull out a bottle of good wine and sit on the floor with all my old issues spread out around me, flipping through them and getting drunk and nostalgic. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Fix Me Pumpkinseed Salad by GreenChef Sarma Melngailis

Sarma Melngailis pumpkinseed salad 01 Fix Me Pumpkinseed Salad by GreenChef Sarma Melngailis

On our menu it’s actually called the Pumpkinseed and Herb Salad, but otherwise referred to by me as my favorite breakfast salad. I wake up craving this salad. And yes, it’s meant to fix me. I started eating this specific green mix because I was told that I probably need more of the sexy mineral zinc in my system, among other things. I haven’t been feeling well (at all) so this salad is part of my healing plan. My books are all about how raw food makes you feel amazing. I used to feel amazing. Why do I now feel like shit? And how can I admit that? (Doing it now). More on the healing plan as soon as I can find more time to write about it. Back to zinc. Pumpkinseeds happen to be very high in zinc. And so my love affair with pumpkinseeds has been rekindled.

Years ago in another (not raw) restaurant, I put a pumpkinseed salad on the menu: lolo rosso and red oak lettuces, shaved bosc pear, shaved pecorino, toasted salted pumpkinseeds and pumpkinseed lemon dressing. While I love delicate fluffy greens like lolo rosso and red oak, what I really can’t get enough of are kale and herbs. I could eat bathtubs of kale.

So, I started making myself this salad at the restaurant. Kale plus a bunch of parsley leaves, cilantro leaves, and torn mint leaves. Add hempseeds (full of omega-3’s… good for so many reasons!). Then toss the whole thing in a dressing made of pumpkinseed oil and lemon juice, and plenty of salt (ideally Himalayan crystal salt). You can also use a mix of olive (or other) oil with the pumpkinseed oil since the flavor is strong, and good quality raw organic pumpkinseed oil happens to be super expensive. (ours comes from Austria, raw and organic). I love maxium pumpkinseed flavor so I use just that oil and lemon (and salt). Top this green pile with a handful of pumpkinseed macadamia parmesan.

Sarma Melngailis pumpkinseed salad 02 Fix Me Pumpkinseed Salad by GreenChef Sarma Melngailis Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

No, I’m Not A Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Foodist, or… Anything-ist

sarma melngailis oneluckyduck i am not a vegan 01 No, Im Not A Vegetarian, Vegan, Raw Foodist, or... Anything istPhotographer Sarma Melngailis

My favorite quote on the issue of being vegetarian, or not.  Exactly why I don’t call myself a vegetarian, vegan, raw foodist, environmentalist, or anything-ist.

“I think that people have framed this conversation in absolutes. Either you are or you aren’t. The word vegetarian, I think, does a disservice because there are a lot of people who care but maybe don’t care, or can’t care in an ultimate way. If you think about environmentalism, nobody would ask, “Are you an environmentalist or not?” The question doesn’t make any sense. And the notion that the first time you drive in a car or fly in a plane that you should throw your hands up in the air and say, “Okay, well I give up. I’m not going to try at all anymore,” is crazy. If people thought about food more like how we think about the environment, a lot of people would be eating differently and the whole system would look a lot different.”

Jonathan Safran Foer, from an interview about his book Eating Animals, with Kiera Butler for To see the whole interview click here. To see his book on Amazon… here.

I get asked a lot if I’m vegetarian, or vegan. I don’t call myself or think of myself that way, even though I eat that way most of the time. Just not 100% of the time. And I don’t like rules. Some people are absolutist about it which is actually admirable, but it’s not what works for me. And I don’t think pushing absolutism onto others is what will change the world. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

GreenChef Sarma Melngailis Got Answers

sarma melngailis got answers GreenChef Sarma Melngailis Got Answers

Photographer: Erica Michelsen

About 1 month ago asked their readers if they had any questions for restaurant owner + chef + entrepreneur and guest blogger, Sarma Melngailis. Today, on her 36th birthday, we excited to bring you Sarma’s answers. 

But, before we do that, we’d like to take a moment to say: Happy Birthday Sarma! Thank you for everything you’d done for the raw food community. Your work is an inspiration and your friendship is always appreciated. Here’s to changing the game!

 Much Love from Anthony, Shannon, Philip and Dhrumil.

Ask Sarma

q question interview GreenChef Sarma Melngailis Got AnswersAndie asks: “What’s your favorite/least favorite parts to your job? is it overall enjoyable or do you ever get really stressed out? plus, what’s your favorite snack?”

a answer interview GreenChef Sarma Melngailis Got AnswersSarma: My favorite parts to my job? First, it feels weird to even call it a “job.” It’s just me, it’s what I do, it’s what I am, and I wouldn’t do anything else. But that’s exactly one of the best parts… having all the certainty imaginable about what I’m doing. Another favorite part is getting to work with ridiculously lovely talented people. And I love meeting new people at the restaurant and making people happy. I love when new dishes, desserts, ice creams or cookies are developed at the restaurant. I love finding really cool new products to add to the oneluckyduck site. Except… right now we have a huge backlog of things I want to add to our inventory and we can’t yet add them. So, this brings me to a less favorite part of what I do.  It would have to be that I still feel that my hands are somewhat tied. This will change soon, but for now it’s challenging. I want to do so many things and not being able to do them can feel frustrating, but I’m working on that! I would love more space and resources. Sometimes I wish I could forget about it all for a while. That part is hard. Building a big business is maybe a little bit like having kids. You can’t put them back, or walk away from them. And you wouldn’t ever want to, because it’s so great and you love them (it) with all your heart and they are a part of you. But, still… sometimes my soul longs to do something mindless and without weight and responsibility. My work and home are combined into one, so there isn’t much separation, which is okay. But I really do want to take a true vacation one of these days. No laptop, no blackberry. Some of my favorite parts of what I do are also the hardest parts. Being in charge is great. But sometimes I don’t want it all to come back to me, and I wish I could just defer to someone else and go take a nap instead. Sometimes I actually do this. I have good support all around me—that’s really nice too. People I love and trust who know the overall vision, so if I need to take a mental break and run off, I can in fact sometimes do that. I should do that. Hmmmm. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

MOOD | There’s a reason why it rhymes with FOOD

sarma mood MOOD | Theres a reason why it rhymes with FOOD

Look back at Sarma’s Jan 2008 Post

SO January 1st, back to reality, the day that so many of us out there (probably mostly girls too) swear that we’re going to be ‘good’ and loose that stubborn 5 to 10 pounds, or whatever it is. How hard can it be? Eat less, exercise more? The problem is, it’s not about that. It’s all wrapped up in personal history, emotion and mood, with a big wad of anxiety tossed in.

When I made the rather sudden switch to raw foods, the shift in my relationship with food that came with it felt like a huge relief. I was a typical over-achieving girl in high-school and college (loooong time ago!) who turned to ‘disorderly’ eating as a distraction from the real issues that otherwise would have been bothersome to have to dwell on. Better to beat myself up over something else, of course! But now this was the first time in my life that food in fact became something more meaningful, but in a good way… it’s not just about me anymore, and my own loopy obsessions and tastes, it’s also about the future… hopefully a sustainable one. For the first time, eating to feel good became the focus… an idea that seems obvious, yet most of us don’t get it. Eat crap = feel like crap. Eat fruit = feel fresh and yummy. Eat chemicals = get weird diseases. Eat natural = be naturally healthy, like we’re supposed to be. Eat raw = live long. And feel happy. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Keeping it Real: Not a religion and not about rules

sarma001 Keeping it Real: Not a religion and not about rules

I am sitting in the restaurant Pure Food and Wine, (my home), at my favorite corner table, very late, yet still early enough that it’s full of people, energy, and loud music (for which we are often given a hard time, but is just all part of the fun). The very fact that these LOUD and rowdy groups are here, and very likely, I am guessing, not vegetarian/vegans, in fact warms the cockles of my heart. How far this “crazy” idea of raw food has come, and yet how far there is still to go…

Given that it’s still January (though with the balmy weather in NYC you’d never guess), I’m going to leverage the New Year’s theme for one more post… as I’ve been hearing so much still about resolutions (mostly broken ones!). I don’t like to make resolutions, because I’m one of those people that sees a rule and wants to break it. If I see boundaries I want to cross them. People ask about my ‘diet’ all the time… “Oh… you’re not allowed to eat this, are you?”… my stubborn response, at least in my head, is always… I can eat whatever I want… I just don’t want to eat that big plate of crispy fries with sweet ketchup. I swear. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

GreenChef Sarma Melngailis | Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagna

zucchinilasagna01 GreenChef Sarma Melngailis | Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagna

Zucchini and Green Zebra Tomato Lasagna with basil-pistachio pesto, tomato sauce, and pignoli ricotta (raw)

We like the vibrant color and tart flavor of green zebra tomatoes, a heirloom variety, for this dish. Of course you can use any tomatoes, preferably heirloom. Use the best quality sun-dried tomatoes you can find (but not he kind packed in olive oil, as this is most often not cold-pressed). The brighter ones make for a redder sauce, which will add good, Italian-flag contrast to the dish.

The first real raw food dish that we ever prepared was a rougher version of this. It has since become the best-selling dish on our restaurant menu and is a perfect introduction for anyone trying raw foods for the first time. The flavors and textures are all familiar, and the vibrant nature of the dish always leaves a strong impression. Many variations on this are possible. Feel free to add marinated wild mushrooms or substitute summer squash for zucchini. As in so many other dishes, the quality, seasonality and freshness of the ingredients are the most important elements.”

Recipe by Sarma Mengailis | Raw Food Real World (Harper Collins, 2005)

Serves 6

For the pignoli ricotta:

2 cups raw pignoli (pine) nuts, soaked for 1 hour or more

2 tablespoons lemon juice

2 tablespoons nutritional yeast

1 teaspoon sea salt

6 tablespoons filtered water

Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

GreenChef Sarma Melngailis | Soft Corn Raw Tacos

sarma taco01 GreenChef Sarma Melngailis |  Soft Corn Raw Tacos

Soft Corn Tortillas
with spicy “beans,” avocado-corn guacamole and tomato-lime salsa (raw)

Make this dish as spicy as you like. Don’t cut too deep into the corncobs or you’ll end up with those hard little pieces that get stuck in your teeth. When making the “beans,” keep in mind that they will be tossed with a mild tomato sauce, so the spiciness will be mellowed out. If you want to make them ahead of time, keep all the components separate and assemble at the last minute, as the tortillas will get soggy if left to sit too long. The flaxseed can be ground in a coffee or spice grinder or Vita-Mix with dry blade (it will yield about 1 cup ground flaxseed).

“We sometimes get large, skeptical men in the restaurant who may have been dragged in by a girlfriend or family member and who proudly insist ‘I’m a meat and potatoes guy!’ For them, I always recommend this particular dish. It’s very filling and hearty. Then I smile graciously as the same guys later inevitably tell me something like, ‘I thought I was going to have to go for a burger after this, but I’m really full!’ I’ve had so many variations of this conversation, and it’s always the tortillas that get the best response from the self-proclaimed ‘carnivores.” – SM

Recipe by Sarma Mengailis | Raw Food Real World (Harper Collins, 2005)

Serves 6

For the corn tortillas::

3 cups fresh corn kernels, cut from 2-3 ears, or thawed frozen corn

1 1/2 cups chopped yellow or red bell pepper

3/4 cup golden flaxseed, finely ground

1 tablespoon lime juice

1 tablespoon ground chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons sea salt

2 teaspoons ground cumin

Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

My Summer Adventures in Juice Cleansing

sarma green My Summer Adventures in Juice Cleansing

Intro Note

This is an extended, unedited version of an article I originally wrote in July for Get Fresh magazine… U.K.’s glossy raw food mag. You can get current and back copies of the mag at Dhru has been a contributor in the past too!

Thanksgiving was beautiful at Pure Food and Wine… and WLIR’s own Philip was there too. Now we’re full on immersed in the holiday season, so I thought it’s not a bad time to put up this post about fasting, eating and all the issues in between. Happy Holidays, and may everyone take really good care of themselves.

Love, Sarma

My Summer Adventures in Juice Cleansing

Some people call themselves experts or even gurus (yes, I have heard someone introduce themselves as a “guru”) on nutrition, raw foods, weight loss, or enlightenment, or all of those. They write and/or speak publicly about conclusions they’ve arrived at through years of experience and diligent research. I, on the other hand, don’t claim to have conclusively figured it all out, nor do I have time for hours of detailed investigation. I just try things for myself and write about it while I’m sorting it all out—like a guinea pig with a notepad, jotting down reports on the experiment phases, tossing out random hypotheses. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Finding Clarity in the Blender | The Green Shake

sarma001 Finding Clarity in the Blender | The Green Shake

This post is a bit more upbeat than the last – no curse words, cranky complaining, cynicism or sarcasm. Writing down your thoughts is, in itself, therapeutic. But when you post it on the web and lots of people read it and give you all kinds of thoughtful feedback, well, that’s free therapy. I’ve learned a lot. THANK YOU!!!

Since it’s impractical for me to drop everything right now and run off to an Ashram to find myself, I had to see how I might be able to conduct the search locally. How do I do this, in my “spare” time? What spare time? How do I find solitude in New York City for some good self-awareness? And when? This has been an ongoing exploration. Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

GreenChef Sarma Melngailis | Raw Pumpkin Tart

sarma pumkintart 01 GreenChef Sarma Melngailis | Raw Pumpkin Tart

Pumpkin Tart
with candied pumpkin seeds (raw)

This recipe makes enough crust for abut 10 tarts if you are using 4 1/2-inch shells. At the restaurant we use 3-inch shells, which are a nice size for a small dessert. Smooth-sided tart shells work best for this recipe, but any kind will do. If you try making a large tart, the crust should be a bit thicker to withstand the pressure of removing it from the shell or using a tart ring would work well too. As with the sour cherry tart, the recipe calls for both coarse and fine almond flour. Again, you can just grind the almonds and use 3 cups total, rather than separating between the coarse and fine crumbs. However, to make a slightly more refined crust, you may want to sift through the nut crumbs to remove any larger pieces – either way it will taste the same.

Try also serving it with the Vanilla Cream and spiced pinch of ground ginger.

Recipe by Sarma Mengailis | Raw Food Real World (Harper Collins, 2005)

Makes 10 Tarts in 4 1/2 Shells

For the tart crusts:

1 1/2 cups coarse almond flour

1 1/2 cups fine almond flour

3 tablespoons date paste

3/4 cup maple syrup powder

3/4 cup coconut butter

Large pinch of sea salt

Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

Raw vs Dunkin’

raw dunkin 01 Raw vs Dunkin

Eating a raw food diet is still considered alternative. On the fringe. People don’t understand it. What is so hard to understand? Food that naturally grows from the earth, fed by sunlight. No one disputes that fresh fruits and vegetables are full of good things, and that generally, people should be eating more of them. Everyone seems to know now that nuts are good, full of “good” fats. Flax, sesame, hemp and more… most would recognize that these are also good foods. Yet, if I went on a road trip across the U.S., I know that there would be long stretches of driving where I would be hard pressed to find places where I could conveniently find and purchase natural and clean food. I would likely encounter a lot of people who would find my eating preferences unusual and odd. But I wonder, if I eat a raw food diet, does that mean that so many others out there are on a processed food diet? Are there enthusiastic processed foodists? For these people, is there an inspiring magazine called “Get Processed”? Continue Reading / Additional Photos / Videos

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