It was 2015 when Sarma Melngailis became a national sensation, but this time around, the headlines were not about her business or brand as the queen of vegan cuisine; it was about her stealing from the same. After all, as ‘Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.’ details, she dwindled her restaurant’s funds for her then-partner Anthony Strangis, only to never get it back — he either gambled it away or used it for needless luxury.
The worst part for the Ivy league graduate, though, apart from losing her two businesses, was that people just supposed she should’ve known better when she revealed the manipulation she’d endured; it wasn’t easy for her. But for now, if you’re curious to simply learn more about the once-renowned restaurateur’s background, along with how she ended up in New York in the first place, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.
What is Sarma Melngailis’s Ethnicity and Nationality?
Sarma Melngailis is not only Latvian-American and extremely proud of her heritage, as evidenced by both the series and her social media platforms, but she’s also a dual citizen. She was born on September 10, 1972, as the youngest of two girls to John Melngailis and Susan Toye Jasse (who split when she was nine), and she mainly grew up in Massachusetts, yet it seems like she has always had a love for her native land.
From what we can tell, Sarma’s paternal side is the only one she gets the Latvian beliefs and traits from, especially considering how her father was born there in 1939. However, right alongside the rest of his family, John had to escape the beautiful European country as a child in October 1944 to escape Russia’s rugged takeover. The Melngailis’ then lived in refugee camps across the continent for a few years before finally arriving in the United States of America – to settle down in Western Pennsylvania – in December 1949.
Sarma has always been close to her entire family – particularly her father, as implied in the Netflix original – thus, it comes as no surprise that their own experiences might’ve played a role in who she is today. Her elder sister Ilze has gone as far as to state that John and Sarma are practically “cut from the same cloth,” meaning that their personalities, values, and devotion are so similar that it’s indisputable. In short, although the former restaurateur was raised in Newton, Massachusetts, and has pursued her professional aspirations in New York, she’s just as much Latvian as she is American.