Restaurateur Sarma Melngailis was once considered the queen of vegan cuisine, but after she tied the knot with a man who’d promised to make her dreams come true, her life spiraled out of control. After all, instead of finding stability, she was soon accused of stealing thousands from her staff and investors, only to be busted through a pizza order he’d placed for himself. The strangest part, though, as detailed by her father John Melngailis in ‘Bad Vegan’ is that she didn’t even tell the family of their union at first— but for now, let’s just find out more about the latter, shall we?
Who is John Melngailis?
Having left his homeland of Latvia with his loved ones as a child in October 1944 to escape Russia’s takeover, John Melngailis arrived in the United States of America following a few bumps in late 1949. Thankfully, while growing up in Western Pennsylvania, he was not only able to find a sense of peace, comfort, and home, but he was also able to learn his true calling in life. That’s why he earned a Bachelor’s, a Master’s, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh before becoming a professor at MIT and then at the University of Maryland.
Academics, especially in the field of Electrical and Computer Engineering, seemed to be John’s passion at the time, so that’s what he focused upon, all the while doing his best to care for his family. It honestly appears as if even when he parted ways with his then-wife in the early 1980s, he didn’t let anything affect the amount of affection their two girls — Ilza and Sarma — received. The fact that the latter is quite like him in terms of their essence, that he threatened to call the police when Anthony Strangis allegedly didn’t let her talk to him while on the run (as per the show), and that he has never once hesitated to help his girls out whenever needed are just proof of his devotion to them.
Where is John Melngailis Now?
In his early 80s today, although John Melngailis is not active in academia anymore and has since seemingly relocated to New York, he is still very well-respected in the community. Moreover, he continues to be extremely close to his daughters and is now happily married to freelance food and family journalist Michaele Weissman, with whom he shares a son. John had actually met her at a party in Cambridge back in the 1960s, yet their relationship didn’t last too long around that time. However, once they reconnected following his divorce, they decided never to let each other go again, and they haven’t.
Coming to his profession, the former professor is now the founder-partner of Black Rooster Food, which allows him to trade in flavorful as well as nutritious old-world sourdough rye bread. Hand baked in Brooklyn, New York, using traditional Latvian recipes — with no wheat flour — these loaves essentially help him honor his heritage in one of the best ways imaginable. That’s particularly because he got the idea of establishing this business following the passing of his mother, an entrepreneur back in Latvia, who baked almost until the end of her life at 91. More importantly, John believes that the consumption of rye bread, if done right, can tackle several health issues, including obesity, diabetes, and heart disease.
Read More: Where is Anthony Caruana Now?