After The Tinder Scammer comes a shocking new documentary for Netflix: Bad Vegan, which looks back at the scam scandal surrounding the popular restaurateur Sarma Melngailis and her former partner Anthony Strangis.
It all starts with a quarrel and threats on the phone between a woman and a man. Her name is Sarma Melngailis, his name is Shane Fox. And the former couple is the subject of an amazing documentary series on Netflix called Bad Vegan: Scam on the menu, which traces the incredibly true story of this restaurateur specializing in vegan cuisine and the influence her former companion exerted on her.
Following The Scammer of Tinder, which hit the headlines and was a huge success, the platform today released a shocking new documentary about a love story and scam directed and produced by Chris Smith, which we already had Jim and Andy for, Tiger King: Into the Wild and FOUR: The Greatest Festival That Never Happened.
Who is Sarma Melngailis?
Originally from Massachusetts, Sarma Melngailis was destined for a career in finance in the 1990s before changing paths for her culinary passion, which came to her from her mother, a professional chef. She graduated from the French Culinary Institute in 1999. Sarma rose through the ranks and met chef, author and lecturer Matthew Kenney, with whom she wanted to maintain a relationship, and restaurateur Jeffrey Chodorow.
Together they opened the restaurant “Clean food and wine” in 2004 specializing in vegan food. The upscale establishment is becoming very popular in New York, so much so that many celebrities are pushing for a table there. Twice listed in “New York Magazine’s Top 100 Restaurants”, the restaurant becomes a real business, expanding with “One Lucky Duck”, a take-out retail store from the restaurant.
Thanks to this avant-garde company, Sarma has become the queen of vegan cuisine. But her relationship with Matthew Kelley does not go far, blaming the chef’s harmful behavior, which has weakened the businesswoman. Luckily for her, the restaurant is in full swing and Sarma has a good relationship with her staff, who claim to have worked in a great environment until everything changes when Sarma meets Shane Fox.
The grip of Shane Fox aka Anthony Strangis
“Friend” by Alec Baldwin, who often visited Sarma’s restaurant, where he also met his future wife, Shane Fox, quickly won the young woman’s heart on Twitter back then in real life, but also his dog Leon, whom she loves. her eyeball. This seemingly idyllic romantic relationship raised many questions from those close to Sarma who were concerned about the young woman.
And they were right. For Shane Fox, his name is actually Anthony Strangis, and he has shaped a pretty crazy life, mixing a past in the Army, a secret agent job attached to the CIA, and mysterious enemies who want to attack him. (It reminds us of a certain Simon Leviev aka The Tinder Scammer).
Even worse, Shane / Anthony had built up an entire discourse about the afterlife, about demons chasing him, about mystical and spiritual beliefs, and about the possibility of immortality he could have given Sarma and his pitbull Leon. Little by little, Shane / Anthony increases his grip on Sarma and often goes on missions, asking for a lot of money from Sarma, but already in debt because of the restaurant, which she tries to run alone, but with financial help. Jeffrey Chodorow, remained a significant support.
Between 2012 and 2014, Sarma sent $ 1.7 million to Shane / Anthony, while the latter played at the casino, led a dream life at star hotels and was on probation after the theft of a luxury car. Meanwhile, Sarma and Shane / Anthony had gotten married, and the scammer was in control of Sarma’s personal belongings, accounts, and passwords.
Despite all this, Sarma and Shane / Anthony continued to travel to different countries with the money earned at the casinos. Lost but completely white in history, Sarma increasingly left the restaurant and things got worse until employees closed the establishment in her absence for unpaid wages in 2015. The restaurant reopened briefly in April 2015, but closed definitively in July 2015, after they employees had grown tired, who even demonstrated in front of the establishment.
After embezzling funds from Pure Food and Wine and failing to pay employees, Sarma and his comrade flee and are actively wanted for robbery, fraud and violation of labor laws and are considered refugees. It was in May 2016 that the couple was finally arrested in Tennessee after ordering pizza from Domino’s Pizza while staying in separate hotel rooms.
Sarma and his lawyers planned a defense based on Shane / Anthony’s coercive control, and the young woman pleaded guilty the following year to stealing more than $ 200,000 from an investor and tax evasion. She received a full four months in prison and filed for divorce in 2018. Shane / Anthony was sentenced to five years in prison. Note that he did not want to participate in the documentary.
During four episodes of Bad Vegan: Scam on the Menu, complete with archive footage, testimony on camera from Sarma, his sister, his father, employees, investors, partners, Anthony’s ex-wife, journalist Allen Salkin from Vanity Fair, reconstructions and footage of phone conversations, the documentary series therefore returns without detour and without manicism about this hallucinatory and incredible affair with a couple of villains and a financial and social scandal that hit the headlines in the United States.