Sarma Melngailis

Sarma Melngailis
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Before turning her energy to food, Sarma worked for Bear Stearns, Inc., Bain Capital Inc., and then CIBC. “Sounds fun so far, right?” Sarma says now, and adds: “So much fun that I realized I really wanted to be doing something else.”

Sarma Melngailis
Sarma's Featured Recipe
Red Grapefruit, Avocado, and Fennel Salad

Click here for recipe

Sarma Melngailis is a restaurateur, cookbook author, and business owner. She is the proprietor and co-founder of New York’s Pure Food and Wine restaurant and owner of the internet companies, One Lucky Duck and Shiny Happy Pets.


Sarma is the author of two cookbooks: Real Food/Real World and Living Raw Food.


Her restaurant opened in 2004 in Manhattan’s Gramercy Park neighborhood and has twice been listed as one of New York magazine’s “Top 100 Restaurants.” For five years in a row it was listed in Forbes magazine as an “All Star New York Eatery.”


Sarma says her love of food began as a child growing up in Newton, Massachusetts. Her mother was a chef and so she was exposed to good cooking and good food as a child. Her father was a physicist at MIT and Sarma headed for the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Economics when it was time for college, earning a degree in economics. She then worked in the financial sector in New York and Boston for a number of years before realizing what she really wanted to do was work in the food business.


Says Sarma: “I realized I really wanted to be doing something else, something I really love. I left [the financial world] in 1999 to get a degree from the French Culinary Institute in downtown New York City and thus began my life in the food world.”


She opened Pure Food and Wine in 2004 as New York’s first upscale raw food restaurant.


In the early days, Sarma spent a lot of time in the restaurant’s kitchen but these days she says she has “turned over my apron to the staff at the restaurant. They create everything on the menu, desserts, takeaway, new snacks, ice creams and anything else we put forth, and they’re amazing.”


She spends her time building the business. One Lucky Duck, an online boutique, markets products that accommodate a raw and organic lifestyle. It labels and distributes snack products—all made and packaged at the restaurant. Shiny Happy Pets is a newer venture aimed at pet owners looking for healthful products.  


When she is not at the restaurant, Sarma spends as much time as she can in her garden. She calls it her “second office and second home.” She lives near the restaurant in New York with her boyfriend and two cats. Her website is

Latest Recipes

Pina Colada

This summer, add this frothy and delightful drink to your list of beverages to serve. In this recipe for Pina Colada, you will puree generous portions of coconut and pineapple, resulting in a beverage everyone will love. If you can't get to a sunny and tropical location this summer, consider doing the next-best thing by making this non-alcoholic beverage. Whether you're hosting game night at your place or simply want a fun drink to sip while sitting on the back porch, this recipe is one you will make again and again when the temperatures heat up.

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Chocolate Oil

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Red Grapefruit, Avocado, and Fennel Salad

This recipe works equally well with oranges in place of the grapefruits. Blood oranges, if you can find them, are especially pretty. Maca...

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Double Mango and Thai Basil Salad with Red Chile and Star Anise

As Florida chef and cookbook author Allen Susser notes in The Great Mango Book, “In the world of mangos, there are two main kinds: green ...

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Celeriac and Green Apple Soup with Black Truffle

Celeriac, a member of the celery family, is an ugly, knobby root. It has a nice half celery, half parsley flavor, though, and is especial...

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Spicy Thai Vegetable Wraps with Tamarind Dipping Sauce

Tamarind pulp can be found as cellophane-wrapped, sun-dried bricks in Asian, Latin, and Indian markets. Tamarind pulp is the sticky inter...

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Red Beet Ravioli with Cashew Cheese Filling, Tarragon, and Pistachios

The colors in this dish are amazing: the bright blush of beets, the sunniness of yellow or orange pepper sauce, the summer-green herbs. W...

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Golden Squash Pasta with Black Summer Truffles, Creamy Truffle Sauce, and Sweet Peas

We’ve nothing against the white variety of truffles (except maybe the price!). Black summer truffles, which are harvested earlier in the ...

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Chocolate Pudding

This recipe is so simple and easy-it takes only a few minutes (not including the coconut whacking). You can substitute carob for the coco...

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Vanilla Ice Cream

We use both vanilla extract and vanilla beans because the beans are so expensive, but if you want, by all means, use all beans and skip t...

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Cherry Pistachio Biscotti

Try adding raw cacao nibs to these, or chopped dried apricot in place of the cherries. They are great with tea, and even better dipped in...

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Morning Sun

Bandi, our fearless juice bar manager, contributed to this recipe, and I love the name. Really does feel like sunshine in a glass and is ...

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Cucumber-Mint Gazpacho

Gazpacho is the ultimate summertime food-fresh, quick to make, and no cooking required. Even in its original form, it’s already a raw foo...

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Preserved Lemons

Preserved lemons are very common in Mediterranean cuisine, particularly that of Morocco. Most recipes require at least thirty days’ prepa...

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Sesame-Mixed Vegetable “Noodles” with Herbs

One night, our executive sous chef Anthony made an amuse-bouche out of a little bundle of thinly sliced vegetables tossed in a dressing a...

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Herbal Guacamole and Spicy Jicama in Romaine Leaves

This quick recipe makes a great meal or a satisfying snack, especially when you don’t feel like using utensils. The leaves of romaine let...

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Chocolate-Coconut Truffles

If you’re making these sweets for your kids, remember that chocolate (raw chocolate in particular) can be somewhat stimulating. To avoid ...

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Apple Crisp

Warm and comforting, apple crisp is ideal in the fall when apples are in their peak season. Unless you told your guests, they would have ...

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Coconut-Lime Cookies

Before the restaurant opened, I spent a lot of time at home experimenting with recipes. One of my favorite desserts was a lime-mousse tar...

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Congo Bars

These classic chocolate-fudge-and-coconut brownies, known as Congo Bars, are insanely good, and much better than any butter, sugar, and f...

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Chocolate Sauce

This sauce is perfect over ice cream, for glazing cakes, or for anything else that could use a drizzle of chocolate. Or just to keep arou...

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Basic Halva

The word halvah is derived from the arabic word for “sweet.” The confection comes in a variety of different types, but this recipe models...

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Raspberry Sunset

Joey first made this cocktail with fresh blackberries, which is how we served it for quite some time at the restaurant. One day we ran ou...

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Prickly Pear-Pomegranate-Tini

I’m not sure what I like better about this cocktail: the taste or the color. Prickly pear is the fruit of the prickly pear cactus. These ...

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Chocolate and sake--I never would have expected these flavors to work so well together. This decadent drink is dessert in itself. One of ...

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