Contributing Monkie GreenChef Staff Monkies
Published on June 12, 2007
Jay Norris has a candid conversation with Gourmet Chef, Sarma Melngailis, from the New York Restaurant Pure Food and Wine when they first opened.
In this interview, Pure Food and Wine chef and proprietor, Sarma, talks openly about her own path to becoming a raw food chef and about opening the new restaurant in New York City.
Jay: You have been open how long?
Sarma: We opened June 17, 2004
Jay: This is my 3rd month coming to this splendid restaurant. I love it.
Sarma: I can’t wait for the Spring and kind of afraid. All of a sudden the restaurant becomes this animal that is so much harder to manage because we need a lot more staff. It’s hard to seat the garden. It’s hard because it’s drizzling or it’s beautiful all day long and so we take reservations and then it rains.
Jay: I can’t wait to see that. See, I missed it last time, I can’t wait. Matthew explained it to me.
Sarma: The garden is so pretty. We have these beautiful dark cherry red banquette cushions that go on the seats in the back and then we have these bright red cushions that go on the chairs. And so it’s really colorful out there. It’s like a dinning room, it’s not like your usual New York outdoor space where you are sitting on these hardwood chairs. It’s really pretty.
Jay: I can’t wait.
Sarma: The trees over head are all blossoming too. We just have to keep the neighbors happy, by keeping the noise down.
Jay: Oh the neighbors complain?
Sarma: Yeah, but the funny thing is, the place next door, Sombara, they have this tiny little garden, but they are so loud.
Jay: I noticed.
Sarma: But everyone thinks it’s us.
Jay: And it’s them.
Sarma: And it’s them, so the neighbors will call down here to complain, and we say, okay we have people in the garden, but the people we have coming here are having dinner and it’s a little more civilized. But the people you are hearing are the rowdy drinkers at the bar.
Jay: Yeah you guys just serve wine here.
Sarma: Yeah, but we also only serve raw food, which decreases ones tolerance, so people not use to it, can sometimes, get really trashed.
Sarma: Yeah, in fact one night, in the summer, shortly after we opened, I was in the kitchen all night and suddenly it was the end of the night, and I was really tired and I started drinking. I hadn’t eaten barely anything all day, and our partner was here, so I was kind of nerves, so I was drinking more, and so I had another glass, and all of the sudden, Matthew and I were about to leave, oh my god, I am trashed. I was like I haven’t been drunk in a really long time. So we walked home, and I felt so bad, so so bad.
Jay: You needed a double Lasagna before you left.
Sarma: Yeah exactly, you have to be careful. But the thing that happened was, we got home and I said, okay I am going to be sick, so I did not want to leave my bathroom. I felt so bad.
Jay: This story….
Sarma: Matthew was like, lets go to bed, lets go to bed. I will carry you. I said, no just please bring me a pillow or something.
Sarma: So he brings me a pillow and that is all I remember. My cell phone rang at 7:30a.m and I woke up and rolled over and Matthew is laying next to me, sleeping on the bathroom floor. (She laughs.)
Jay: He was knocked out.
Sarma: No, he was fine, but he slept with me on the bathroom floor.
Jay: Wow he is so sweet.
Sarma: Isn’t that cute.
Jay: Yeah and we have to add that you guys make a splendid couple.
Sarma: And that we sleep together on the bathroom floor.
Jay: Yeah and you sleep together on the bathroom floor, and you’re raw. That is amazing and beautiful. You guys have so much compassion for each other.
Sarma: He was sweet.
Jay: How is that, you guys being a couple and running a restaurant together. How is that?
Sarma: It’s a lot easier than it is difficult. Do you know what I mean? Again, if he had some other career or I had some other career, that would probably be impossible. Everyone says, how do you work together, you must want to kill each other. No, I think it would be the other way around.
Jay: It’s kind of ideal because you do get to spend a lot of time together. Time with your partner, and you guys have to get along and I am sure you have to steal time with each other for intimate moments.
Jay: You guys are living the fantasy life, for a lot of people. A lot of people would love to be around their significant other that much and be raw at the same time. You know what I hear about being raw. I hear its got some sexual passion.
Sarma: Yeah, Matthew has been taking a lot of Malta it is suppose to… (Part 2 Coming Soon.)