Choosing Raw Interview + Giveaway: Sarma Melngailis of New York City’s Pure Food and Wine
August 9, 2009

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(Erica Michelsen)

Boy, do I have a treat for you guys tonight!

Few New York City institutions are more cherished than the neighborhood restaurant. Most everyone has one: a beloved dining spot downstairs or around the corner that they can depend on. This restaurant is rarely adored for its cuisine; if anything, most neighborhood restaurants are fairly average. They’re likely to be a run-of-the-mill French bistro, or a tiny Italian spot with ten tables, or a diner that happens to be open late. What keeps us coming back to these restaurants again and again is not the food, per se, but the reliability. We may never credit our neighborhood restaurant with the best meal we ever had, or the most innovative, but we can count on it for consistency: we know what it offers, what we’re going to get (because most of us have a favorite dish on the menu) and we know that it will be good.

Truth be told, most restaurants are the same to me: high-end or modest, Italian or French, innovative or traditional, there’s a good chance I’m going to be ordering a giant salad and some steamed, grilled, or sautéed vegetables (maybe with a nice vegan sauce or dressing). This doesn’t sadden me: I don’t expect restaurants to carry an abundance of raw, vegan food. Raw vegans are a tiny part of the New York dining population (and an even smaller part of the national one), and there’s no reason why restaurants can or should cater directly to us. Sure, I think that restaurants should try harder to come up with innovative meals without animal proteins, and I believe they should begin waking up about local, organic, whole foods (some already are are). But I don’t expect all restaurants, especially modest neighborhood mainstays, to accommodate me to perfection.

Still, restaurant dining is a huge part of New York City culture. And it does sometimes feel like a secret language I don’t speak: all this worship of certain chefs and dining spots, this excitement about trying the latest branch of the Momofuku empire or the latest steakhouse, this ardor for flipping through New York  Magazine each week and eying new spots to savor. Thankfully, though, there is one part of the restaurant culture that I don’t have to miss out on. Within the last few years, I’ve found my own neighborhood restaurant—it just doesn’t happen to be in my residential neighborhood!

Pure Food and Wine, a mere three blocks from my office, is everything to me that a neighborhood restaurant should be. It’s inviting. It’s fun. It’s friendly. It’s reliable; I can count on Pure for the same consistency and quality that most people attribute to their neighborhood favorites. And best of all, it’s vegan. And raw. What more could a girl ask for??

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(Ryu Kodama)

Unlike other neighborhood restaurants, Pure Food and Wine is notable for its cuisine. And I can say with assurance that I have had both the best and most innovative meals of my life there.

I like to preach the gospel of simplicity on this blog, and rightly so; I think that keeping food preparation simple is an integral part of success with a raw lifestyle. That said, I am no different from any other restaurant diner in wanting the occasional dazzling entrée or elaborate dessert—something I couldn’t, and wouldn’t, make at home. And this is where Pure comes in. It’s the place I can take family and friends to show them the true potential of vegan dining, or to prove that raw cuisine, like any other cuisine, is a blank canvas for culinary artistry.

So Pure has become for me a classier, more exciting version of what the neighborhood restaurant is for most people: on the one hand, it’s where I go when I want to be stunned with innovative raw cuisine. On the other, it’s the place I go when the thought of throwing dinner together seems like a drag; a place where I can smile and greet the wait staff by name; a place where I can always rely on my favorite rotation of dishes. The takeaway spot, One Lucky Duck, has become my go-to spot for midday treats, a great place to meet clients, and a shopping destination for raw goodies (they stock everything from prepared foods to raw oils and nut butters to my favorite facial wash).

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(Carina Salvi)

My adoration of Pure is only compounded by my admiration for its founder, businesswoman extraordinaire (and total raw hottie) Sarma Melngailis. Sarma is a powerhouse: an entrepreneur (she is the founder, CEO, and proud mother of One Lucky Duck), a restaurateur (the co-founder and owner of Pure), and talented writer (the co-author of Raw Food Real World and author of Living Raw Food). If that isn’t enough, Sarma is also a blogger, a huge presence in the raw community, and a living, breathing embodiment of that ubiquitous “glow.” How Sarma manages to balance all of these tasks is beyond me; all I can say is that she does balance them, with her spirits and her glow intact!

Recently, this very busy lady was kind enough to agree to answer a few of my burning questions for you very lucky Choosing Raw readers. I was curious about Sarma’s experience as a businesswoman, her thoughts on the raw lifestyle, and her personal faves on the Pure menu. And I was thrilled with her answers. I love what Sarma has to say about the pressures of being a businessperson (though the scope of my business is much smaller than hers, I can relate!). And I think you’re all going to love what Sarma has to say about her raw lifestyle.

When I began Choosing Raw, my goal was to present the raw lifestyle in a welcoming voice, without espousing absolutes or judgments. This is the voice Sarma speaks with, and I hope you’ll all enjoy it!!

1)   I know that you covered the details of your raw transition in Raw Food, Real World, but could you recap the basics for us? What inspired you to try the raw lifestyle, and why did you continue?

I first heard about raw in the summer of 2003. I was reluctantly brought to a small raw café thinking it was going to completely suck. I was bummed out that we weren’t going to the fancy new Jean-Georges restaurant instead. Everything changed in that dinner. The philosophy/rationale (whatever you’d call it) behind eating raw was being explained to me while I was eating (a lot) of yummy food that was so much better than I thought it was going to be, and I felt really good—a noticeable contrast vs. the heavy, want-to-take-a-nap-now feeling that I normally felt after a big restaurant dinner. I was completely intrigued and excited. After that I read as much as I could about raw food while on what I thought was going to be a two-week raw food experiment. I figured it would be hard to endure, that I’d be going crazy wanting a hamburger, chicken, cheese and bread. I didn’t want any of those things, and I felt so amazing in a way I didn’t even know was possible. After only a few days I realized the experiment had become a permanent shift.

2)      A lot of food bloggers lately seem to feel pressured to “go raw” overnight or more quickly than they’re really ready for. Which is why I think they might find it comforting to hear that you don’t flash around the “100% raw” label; you, like me, make room for some cooked foods in your diet, right? What’s the balance that works for you?

I don’t really look for a specific balance of raw vs. cooked. When I’m working in a regular routine I’m usually eating all raw all the time. Admittedly it’s incredibly easy for me when I have my restaurant, our juice bar/takeaway, and One Lucky Duck snacks available whenever I want. But then when I come home and my boyfriend happens to have been inspired at the greenmarket by fresh beets and decided he was going to make a huge pot of borscht, then, I’ll eat a bowl of borscht. (It was really good by the way—full of beets, potatoes, carrots, cannellini beans, cabbage, yum). But then I did feel like I wanted to take a nap immediately. Maybe that ended up being half of what I ate that day. So then I was only half raw. I just never think about percentages, or looking for a balance. I love food, and I like trying other foods and flavors.

And I love nice restaurants. I’m busy so I don’t go out a lot, but if I end up in a really nice restaurant that uses good ingredients, I’ll try just about anything. It just depends whether it feels worth it to me. In Tokyo I was taken to probably one of the best sushi places in that whole city. I ate whatever the chef put in front of me, including teeny whole squids. Eiw. (But it actually tasted really good, once I didn’t have to look at it anymore). There are probably some vegans that would be appalled at what I eat once in a while… but it’s only once in a while.

Otherwise, my diversions are usually still vegan at least. Sometimes I get these odd crazy cravings for chickpeas. I can’t get chickpeas out of my brain. So, I’ll get a can of organic chick peas, dump it into a bowl and toss it with macadamia oil (my favorite), lime juice, and sea salt. Or, put them in a salad. Black beans too. If beans and chickpeas are my diversions from raw, I don’t think that’s anything to worry about. What makes me feel deprived is if I have to go too long without a green shake, or a green juice. I love green shakes (there’s a recipe on my blog and in Living Raw Food) and I love eating mostly raw most of the time!

3)      It goes without saying—or at least, it will come as no surprise to any of my blog readers—that I consider Pure Food and Wine the absolute epitome of fine dining. Part of what I love about Pure is that, unlike some other vegan or healthy restaurants, it feels like a sexy, elegant, urban dining experience. Could you say a few words about the ethos of the restaurant, and how it has grown?

Well, you said it nicely that the restaurant feels sexy and elegant. That’s what we’ve always been going for, in addition to really comfortable and warm. I like having high service standards, but delivered in a friendly way. I want everyone to feel extremely welcome and for that reason we actually don’t hire many raw/vegans (if any at all!). I’d like to get people who otherwise wouldn’t visit this sort of restaurant to come and so I especially don’t ever want anyone to come in and feel judged, or different. I’ve always wanted it to be this way and I think that’s stayed the same. What I see having grown is that more and more people coming in have already heard of raw food and know of the restaurant before—that’s nice.

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(Ryu Kodama)

4)      Raw Food, Real World, is a classic in my own cookbook library, so I’m thrilled to dig into Living Raw Food. Could you say a few words about how the new book differs from the last? How has your culinary approach changed since you wrote the first book?

Like the first book, the new book is full of recipes from Pure Food and Wine, but this time they’re divided in two sections: easier recipes for which you don’t need as much time and equipment, and more ambitious recipes that require a bit more planning. The recipes come almost entirely from the staff at the restaurant, so it’s less a reflection of my own culinary approach vs. the restaurant’s culinary development. At this point we have more than enough recipes for a third book and I’d love to do a dessert book too.

Aside from the recipes, Raw Food Real World is more of a beginner’s perspective. My co-author and I described how we felt after our overnight transition from eating absolutely everything to eating only (or, mostly only) raw plant foods. This time I wrote the book alone, and it’s more about what it’s been like for me after five years on mostly raw (now it’s been six, but it was five at the time I wrote it). I also really wanted to address some of the more common questions I’ve been asked over the years, which includes issues related to emotional detox and people’s struggle to “stick with it”.

5)      As a book editor (my other, non-blogging life!), I really relish the intelligence and clarity you bring to your writing. I’ve also noticed that the new book is much more of a book, and less of a cookbook, than the first. How was it being a bit more visible as a narrator this time around?

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To the extent that this book is a lot more personal, it was definitely nerve-wracking to put out. I kept thinking maybe I was sharing too much, or putting forth some kind of less than desirable impression, or worst of all just that no one would care. But then I just figure, F-it, as long as it’s honest then there’s nothing really to regret. My publisher wouldn’t like to know I’m saying this, but the cover makes me really squeamish! It looks too sales-y to me—like I’m pitching a Hawaiian vacation with that cocktail in my hand! I’m not good at posing for photos. Candid photos feel much more genuine. I love my publisher but we definitely fought over the cover and since they have ultimate control, they win. [Editor’s honest note: Yeeeah. We publishers need to work on our book cover savvy.]

But back to the writing… I was really happy that they let me write what I wanted without censoring it, even when I wrote goofy things. I really want to write another book that has no recipes—I’ve been writing it in my head for a long time. I can let our chefs put out more recipe books, and I’ll write this other one. I just need to find the time!

6)      As a restaurateur, a writer, and a small business owner (One Lucky Duck), you are quite an entrepreneur. How do you balance all of your projects without losing your mind? What are some of the pressures that come with being at the helm of so many incredible organizations?

Sometimes I do lose my mind. I probably ought to meditate and do yoga and all that. Instead I just keep letting my mind run and run until it overloads and crashes, and then I’ll have to spend half a day (usually a Sunday) in broken down mode. This happens once in a while! I’d prefer if I could go lie on a beach once in a while, but for now this is how it goes. It’s okay. I think almost all people that have built really big businesses (and I plan for mine to be really big!) will say that there was a period of time where it’s all about survival and pushing forward with every ounce of effort. At some point we’ll reach a cruising altitude and then hopefully I can step back a bit, take more time to relax (which of course will only make me more focused and productive) and be able to create the things I want to create.

I think the biggest pressure comes from knowing so many people rely on you. Not that I want to, but I can’t decide to flake out and move to Hawaii. There are 70 (or so) people working for me. They’re all amazing. But I can’t let them, or anyone else, down. There’s a lot to take care of, a lot at stake, and hence, quite a bit of pressure. I try not to think about that part and just keep moving along. I’m kind of a perfectionist, so when I look at things I see what’s not right, and what needs fixing, updating, etc. Even at other restaurants, if there’s a typo on the menu I’ll spot it right away. I also know what we have planned, so when I look at oneluckyduck.com it’s hard for me to see all the things that aren’t there yet, that aren’t the way I’d like them to be. But I’m guessing it’ll always be like this. And it makes it really fun and satisfying when we make progress.

7)      OK. The question I’ve been dying to ask you! What are some of your favorite recipes from the new book? And what are some classic items on the Pure menu that have stood the test of time?

From the easier side of the book, I love the Heirloom Tomato, Fennel, and Avocado Pressed Salad with Caper Dressing, Pistachio, and Mint. A lot of my favorite flavors in one dish. It’s good to make for a dinner party.

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I also love the super-easy Chia Pudding—it really couldn’t possibly be easier, it’s like the raw equivalent of jello pudding where you just stir the liquid in and wait fifteen minutes. Since there’s a recipe called My Favorite Greens Shake, that’s definitely another one I love.

From the more ambitious side of the book, I love the Black Trumpet Mushroom Napoleon with Caramelized Shallots, Herbed Cashew Cream and Apricot-Riesling Sauce. That’s not written on the menu at the restaurant right now, but we have the same thing in little mini bite sized tarts that you usually get if you order the tasting menu and I always order them to start when I have business dinners there. I also absolutely love the Falafel and Tabouleh which is still (and always will be) on our takeaway menu. Also, the Mint Sundae. Unless you don’t like mint, it’s hard not to love that one. [Hi again. Um, this is very true.]

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The lasagna is the most classic menu item… specifically, the Zucchini and Tomato Lasagna with Pine Nut Ricotta, Sun Dried Tomato Sauce and Basil Pistashio Pesto [This is the dish that converted my Mom to raw food enthusiasm!]. The Tamales are also a popular dish, also in the first book, and also still on the menu now. And finally, you know my favorite thing from the takeaway is the Mallomar (though not in the book) … yummy. That and mint chocolate chip ice cream. OK… now I’m really hungry! 🙂

* * *

Thank you, Sarma, for giving New York the wonderful institution that is Pure. And thank you for giving me the neighborhood restaurant I never had.

I don’t doubt that Sarma’s musings will inspire so many of you — if only to make some raw ice cream! And to help you in that effort, Sarma has very generously agreed to share a copy of Living Raw Food with one lucky reader! So here’s the deal: respond to this post with a comment about one thing you took away from Sarma’s fabulous interview. I’ll announce the winner two weeks from today, on August 23rd. Good luck to you all!

I also have the winner of my last giveaway to announce! A brand new copy of Born to Run goes to #22: Lorena. I’ll be in touch, Lorena, about sending you the book!

And thanks, as always, for stopping by. May you all enjoy a visit to Pure someday — the sooner, the better!

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xo

P.S. Everyone head over to my pal Chocolate Covered Katie‘s blog to read my guest post on veggie pasta!

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    188 Comments
  1. I think the thing that I’ll take away from your interview with Sarma is inspiration. She seems so honest; admitting that “There are probably some vegans that would be appalled at what I eat once in a while… but it’s only once in a while.

    Making any big lifestyle transition can be daunting, but it was really refreshing to read an interview with someone who isn’t perfect, and who admits that at first she never thought she would be able to transition to a high-raw lifestyle. Its something that I’m extremely interested in, but have serious reservations about my actual day to day ability to live a lifestyle like that but Sarma has really made me feel that it would be possible. And if I do have the occasional slip ups – it’s okay.

  2. I learnt that life can be like you ARE pitching a Hawaiian vacation–in more ways than one.

    Sarma’s life may appear like a glossy cover to an outside observer, but between the pages is, like any creation that looks beautiful and polished, the product of great effort and hard work. But the satisfaction is worth it.

    The lived raw experience (and everything that entails) is like that, too.

    Sarma’s fusion of passion, lifestyle and work ethic typifies for me the work of creating a better self through knowing who I am, what I want in life, and where I want to be.

    The rewards are: wellbeing, heightened sense of self, that “glow”.

  3. I think Sarma is very inspirational. It’s amazing how she balances running a business, eating raw etc. I love how honest she is when she talks about being in “broken down mode”

  4. What a great informative interview!!! I really liked how Sarma answered the question about being 100% raw all the time, mostly the fact that she doesn’t even think of it as a percentage, but rather does what shes feels–which for the most part is raw. I loved the interview and love your blog!!!

  5. the entire interview was very inspirational to break out of current eating habits and to slowing incorporate raw eating into my life.

  6. I continue to try and bring more raw foods into my diet. It can be tough to be as consistent as I want to be, when my life is so crazy with all the other pieces. Sarma has a unique ability to make one feel good about the effort they have put into it and not feel like they aren’t getting any real benefit from it since they aren’t following the lifestyle 100%. She motivates me to continue as I have been and to strive to bring more raw into my diet!

  7. It was reassuring to hear from Sarma that the goal isn’t to be 100% raw all of the time, even if you have your own raw restaurant (!), but to enjoy yourself and feel good. Thanks so much for posting this interview- I loved reading it!

    And let me just say that the picture of the mint sundae left me drooling over my keyboard- yum!!!

  8. I love reading about other peoples dietary journies! This interview was especially exciting for me as I have heard a lot about Sarma and Pure Food and Wine so its nice to hear some tidbits from her.
    That said, the pictures, and names of some (well most) of those recipes look amazing! I would love to get my hands on a copy of the cookbook to try ’em out!
    -K

  9. Wow what a great interview! I love how she is accepting of other people that aren’t raw, and doesn’t want anyone to feel judged coming into her restaurant. And also that she is enjoying life and food like eating what she wanted at the sushi restaurant. I am a firm believer in eating like the culture “When in Rome”. You only live once! Thanks for this interview Gena!

  10. I love how Sarma eats what she wants at the moment and doesn’t make it “all or nothing” with raw food. I love eating mostly raw, but also love to have a cup of organic coffee. I also love that she doesn’t label herself or constrict herself to only eating vegan foods, but will have something decadent once in a while- such a great balance! I don’t have any raw books and have been wanting one of hers forever! 🙂

    Love your blog btw!:)

  11. I became intrigued with Sarma right from the first sentence of the interview. She’s beautiful on the outside and the inside. It is very interesting to learn of all of her business endeavors, her favorite recipies and the simplicity of what she will some day take time to do: spend time at the beach! I love that she speaks of her imperfections as she strives to be a perfectionist. She lets us know what her dreams are and that she really isn’t all that different from each of us. Dreams can come true when one works hard to make them happen. I loved the interview. Thank you for sharing.

  12. I was pretty surprised that Sarma doesn’t limit herself to only raw foods, or that she isn’t obsessed with only eating “raw” foods… I think it’s great that she modifies her diet based on how she feels, or allows herself to indulge in other foods. Thank’s for this wonderful interview – it was so insightful and interesting!

  13. For me, the most inspiring aspect of the interview with Sarma was truly understanding that although she is extremely busy, she still manages to maintain a high-raw lifestyle. In fact, being so busy, makes it more important than ever to take care of our bodies through whole, plant-based, living foods. I also appreciated that she is flexible when it comes to her diet. After reading this, I plan to listen to my intuition in order to make the mostly raw lifestyle work for me without worrying about rules. I also realized that I need to get myself to PURE to try some Mallomars!
    Thanks for the great interview Gena & Sarma! Love the Choosing Raw blog!

  14. It’s really inspiring to read that Sarma is flexible- not all vegan and raw all the time. I struggle with that in my own life, and try to take the attitude, why is it a struggle? But it’s hard to keep that perspective sometimes. This really was a great interview, thank you Gena!

  15. “Mostly raw most of the time”. I am constantly needing a friendly reminder that this is not about labels or perfection. We still need to live life and enjoy others around us. I couldn’t agree more with Sarma’s view on this. If my boyfriend cooks up a batch of delicious borscht, you better believe I want to try it with no guilt involved!

  16. I love her “go with the flow” way of life….it doesn’t always have to be the is the RIGHT or that is WRONG, especially when it comes to food. Thanks for sharing and thanks a gazillion for the frozen bananas idea — you may have perfected the wheel 🙂

  17. I love that Sarma eats mostly raw, and is non-judgemental. It makes it feel doable.
    Will totally go to Pure Food and Wine if I ever get to NY.

  18. I love that she is doing something that feels right for HER, yet she’s not sooo strict in her raw lifestyle and still maintains balance in her (eating) life. 🙂

    P.S. I neeeeeed to go to Pure Food and Wine!!!!!

  19. What a great interview! I had no idea Sarma has a blog, but I am definitely going to check it out now because she seems like she has a great head on her shoulders. I really like how she doesn’t hire staff that are raw/vegan – I hate for people to feel like I’m judging them, and this way, people who come to the restaurant to try vegan/raw food for the first time never have to feel on the defensive or put down, but welcomed instead. And I’m going to have to try her chickpea/macadamic oil/lime juice/sea salt snack. That sounds incredible! I really want to visit Pure and One Lucky Duck in the future…definitely the next time I get to go to NYC!

  20. I absolutely adored Sarma’s moderate take on raw foods. I liked that she doesn’t kill herself over numbers and being all or nothing – that’s something I really need to work on! 🙂

  21. I love the balanced approach of choosing raw most of the time. She seems very intune with what she wants and what her body needs.

  22. She convinces me when she tells she likes the taste of raw food so much better than cooked food, and that made her permanent shift so easy.

  23. I am pretty new to raw foods and I loved reading Sarma’s interview because she is REAL (and therefore she does not alienate newbies such as myself). She lives a normal life in the big city (like me!) and she makes raw work. This kind of ‘raw role model” is sooo inspiring to me because it has the potential to reach people from all walks of life and allow them to find their own unique and healthy path.. all without judgement. I’d love the book! =)

  24. I love that she mentions the cookbook is divided up into “easier” and more ‘Time consuming” recipes. As a semi-novice cook knowing what I am getting into beforehand is very helpful.
    Defintely going to check out Pure Food and Wine my next trip to NYC.

  25. Awesome interview, Gena! And big thanks for the giveaway!! I loved that she presented the raw food lifestyle as very low stress- still eating her boyfriend’s borscht every once in a while, or japanese food, or chickpeas and black beans. I like that she strives to listen to her body and just have balance.

    I really hope I can eat there someday!!

    Thanks again,
    GC

  26. I’m glad that Sarma brought out that eating raw doesn’t have to be complicated. I think I make it harder than it has to be – all or nothing thinking.

  27. You’re so lucky living/working so close by to Pure! I made another recipe from the new book last night and really enjoyed it. I kept saying to myself as I ate it that I really have to get to NYC soon 🙂
    And so happy to read that there’s more than enough recipes for a 3rd book too! Looking forward to it already…
    (as an aside, I clearly already have the current book…)
    xo e.

  28. Hi Gena,

    Thank you for posting such a great, honest interview. How perfect that I just read this post on Monday and that day my girlfriends visiting from out of town invited me to join them for dinner at Pure (my first time). The food was so delicious and my body was so happy during and after the meal. What resonated most with me in the interview was that, from the outside, we see a beautiful, successful business woman who seems to have it all figured out. In reading her responses, however, we learn that she’s just as worried about being and doing enough for herself and everyone else as the rest of us are. My favorite frame from the interview was her statement, “But then I just figure, F-it, as long as it’s honest then there’s nothing really to regret.” Isn’t this ultimately what helps us all move forward in our lives? The moment when we realize that, no matter what path we choose, as long as it is true to who we are and that we live our most authentic lives, to the best of our ability, with the information and energy that we have at that time, then we’re going to be just fine. And along the way, we may even aspire others to strive for their best lives, too.

    You can’t really go wrong with eating live, nutritious food. This blog is a reflection of that lifestyle: honest, nourishing, and so delicious for the soul and the senses. Thank you. With gratitude, Margaret xo

  29. I loved when Sarma was talking about how many people with big businesses get to a point where it’s all about survival and pushing forward with every ounce of effort. I think that the same could be said for starting a raw lifestyle. There may come a point when its hard to stick with and you are having cravings…you may even fall of the wagon, so to speak. But, you just have to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and keep pushing forward! Love this! And I LOVE your blog! I just discovered you when I saw you on Matt Monarch’s tv show and I am so impressed both with your writing style and your commitment to representing the raw food lifestyle in the mainstream. 🙂

  30. I think what I took away was relating to how she sometimes feels overwhelmed just like I do. I work full-time, have a direct sales business with fellow team members that I lead, wife, mother and take 2 online classes. So it really made her an average person like me who works just as hard as I feel I do. Sometimes we think those who are in the spot light have it easy but they work just as hard as we do but maybe get to take a longer break sometimes. She is a very down to her young lady and a great role model for the younger generation and women.

  31. Hiya Gena,

    Well one thing I discovered from your entry is Sarma herself and her restaurants! I have not heard of her before your blog entry and goodness me, I live in New York. I feel as if I have been living under a rock (hey, I am on Long Island). What I most admire however is the fact that while in Tokyo she ate squid. I strongly advocate experiencing other cultures and cuisines especially while visiting/living on their turf and I’m happy to know Sarma is fluid enough to flow with life and temporary dietary changes. Knowing this, I plan on visiting Pure and One Lucky Duck very soon. By the by, great interview.

    Cheers,
    Heather

  32. After looking at Sarma’s books online and seeing pictures of her beautiful restaurant, it was great to see how down-to-earth she is despite all of the glamour both she and her restaurant project.

    And I enjoyed being reminded that creating a positive place in the world takes a lot of work and time, even if it’s enjoyable. I think that sometimes many of us (at least me!) give up on a passionate idea before we begin because we think it should just happen without a lot of effort. Sarma reminded me that you need to really stick with a project and give it all you have before it starts to have a life of its own.

    Thanks for the great interview!

  33. I totally relate to what Sarma said about being continuously motivated when you have many people relying on you. I think this can be both good and bad but seeing someone as successful as Sarma balance this must mean the good outweighs the bad!! GREAT INTERVIEW!!!

  34. i’m completely inspired by sarma’s non-obsession with being completely raw — and the fact that she’ll eat a whole squid (yay!). i tend to take to ideas that are presented in sane and flexible way. this is the first time i’m actually inspired to be mostly raw — others seemed to make it this exclusive club of ‘the strong.’ by taking out the pressure of being 100%, i’m inspired to give this a try. thanks for posting such a great interview!

  35. The things I took away from the interview with Sarma is that she is very candid about what it takes to have her lifestyle, i.e, it takes a lot of work. And, the questions drew out her overall passion about good food and getting that message to people either in a restaurant or through her books. I like that she is does not advocate ALL raw and even advises against it for newbies.

    There seems to be a sea change in people’s perceptions now that there are movies like King Corn and Food, Inc. I hope Sarma continues being successful spreading the message about the benefits of raw food.

  36. I love that it started as a two week experiment but she felt so much better it became permanent…maybe I should start an experiment of my own!

  37. What an exciting post AND giveaway!! Basically this whole post has lit some fire under my tuccus (sp?) to dine at Pure Food and Wine!!! I want to try the lasagna and experience the sexy ambience. It sounds heavenly and I cannot believe I live here have not gone there yet! Thanks so much for the post!

  38. This is how interviewing should be done – kudos! The questions were interesting, not run-of-the-mill and informative.

    I would love to win a copy of Sarma’s new book. I’m new (2 months) to the RAW lifestyle and a bit overwhelmed. I’ve made the easy changes of cutting out processed foods and meats about 95 % of the time. Thanks to your blog and YouTube I’ve learned to make about 6 meals pretty well. As much as I love them I need some new ones. I’m also trying to convince my future husband to eat raw with me and being the typical all-American male he’s hesitant to try new ‘healthy’ things. If I could master a few recipes from the new book and present them in a fun way I know he’d be hooked. We want to have a baby next year and while I’m doing everything I can to get healthy…his eating habits leave a little to be desired 🙂

    Since we’re moving to NY all our extra income is being budgeted for that and I can’t really spend money on a new book. This would be a great “first” recipe/how-to book for my RAW collection.

    BTW=
    I’m completely bummed because I was just in NYC for the first time last weekend and I can’t believe I missed out on Sarma’s restaurant. My fiance surprised me with the trip and he had every detail planned ahead of time. Next visit I’ll be stopping by for sure!

  39. I really like the fact that she makes an effort NOT to hire an all raw or vegan staff at Pure. I’m sure it makes for a less intimidating dining experience for those who are just beginning to contemplate a raw lifestyle (like me!).

  40. Great interview – I love how honest she was about the book cover! I really really want to visit pure food and wine, especially after reading this. I was surprised to learn that she rarely hires raw or vegan people in order to make all sorts of people feel comfortable eating there.

  41. I enjoyed reading this interview. I admire Sarma for purposefully choosing a restaurant staff/atmosphere designed to embrace all customers regardless of their experience, or lack thereof, with raw foods. I would love to win Sarma’s new book, thank you for doing the giveaway!

  42. I have listened to hear interview on RawVegan radio and really found her to be very interesting, this was a great follow up! I learned that I seriously need to go out and get some chia seeds!

  43. I love Sarma as well. 🙂 One thing I took away was that publishing a book is a lot of work, and that sometimes you win some (sometimes you don’t – like the cover!). It’s really interesting how the process of birthing a book is a lot like having kids! Woah.

  44. I learned that even though it may seem like you have it all, it is still a struggle and it takes extreme dedication and motivation to keep it going. I also love her philosophy about not beating yourself up if you have something non-raw, that is a great way to live.

  45. I love the fact that Sarma does not take an all or nothing approach to eating raw. Instead she seems to listen to her body and focus on eating healthy.

    By the way, I was so excited to see this post. I am headed to NY for the half marathon this weekend and I’ve already made a reservation for dinner at Pure on Sunday after the run! Now, I’m looking forward to going there even more! I see a mint sundae in my future:)

  46. What a beatiful interview Gena. Thank you! I’ve been incorporating more and more raw foods into my diet ever since I came across your blog. Keep it up!

  47. I love how Sarma is honest and confident about the fact that she is not always 100% raw vegan. I think a lot of times people get so wrapped up in these labels and have preached about it for so long that it would be horrendous to admit or be out and have something that isn’t 100% raw or isn’t vegan. What I liked even more is how she described that she is really only deprived when she hasn’t had her green juice! Now that’s inspiring 🙂

  48. That was such a beautiful post and interview, Gena.

    I am a new fan of raw cooking, recently exposed by your blog and the popularity of the viral banana soft serve. 🙂

    What I took from the interview was that it is possible to create elegant and and healthy raw food without being elitest or militant. That’s why I like your voice so much. Raw preparation is something I want to become familiar with. I only wish I could visit Sarma’s restaurant!

  49. it’s so nice to see that even Sarma doesn’t have that “all or nothing” mindset regarding her raw food lifestyle – it gives me hope that i can do this too 🙂

  50. Along with many others, at first I tried to transition to raw full force–I thought no looking back! I gave myself a week–the time it took me to finish reading my first raw book and all of the blogs and even after all of the suggestions not to do 100%, I felt it would have to be all or nothing. When I encountered my first problem dinner (with friends) I felt guilty for falling away from my new love for raw foods. It’s great to know others who hold so strong to raw foods sometimes do less than 100%–even dropping to 50%. My biggest problems are holding on so tightly to the “rules” like food combining, etc. but obviously this is a processs and will continue to be throughout. If I won her book would be my first raw recipe book!

  51. I would sooooo love to win this book! I have “Raw Food, Real World” and just love it…so full of great recipes, stories, and photography.

    I really identify with the part of this interview where Sarma talks about eating some cooked food once in a while. I used to have big guilt about not being 100% raw..but have since settled into the idea that it’s ok to eat some cooked food. Steamed veggies with brown basmati rice is great sometimes and I also have a great love for sushi that I am not willing to give up…but it’s ok…it’s not like I’m eating cheeseburgers!!!

    Thank you for the great interview and giveaway! Good luck everyone!

  52. I appreciate the fact that she has such flexibility. So many people think it has to be all or nothing, but she seems to realize that true balance can only be achieved through an open mind (and hungry tummy).

  53. I can’t tell you how inspiring this interview was for me. As someone who is just starting on her raw journey, it was incredibly reassuring to hear Sarma talk about her willingness to try different types of food and to also listen to what her body is craving even if it’s not 100% raw. Baked yams and sweet potato fries are always on my mind and in the bigger scope of things, I feel like it’s okay to give into these diversions every once in awhile.

  54. That sure was a treat indeed! Thanks for posting such a great piece about Pure. I’m sure we’ll be headed there when we’re back in NY.

    Love and Hugs,
    Kristen

  55. I love that Sarma shared her “mostly raw, most of the time” approach. I think that is such an admirable stance to take when it comes to raw food. I have driven myself crazy in the past, trying to be 100% percent raw, but I find life so much more enjoyable when I don’t stress about labeling my diet. Thanks for sharing the inspiring interview!

  56. I really appreciate and admire the fact that she is not afraid or ashamed to stray from the raw food path. I have considered going raw, but for some odd reason, I think it has to be an all or nothing thing. After reading her interview, I realized that being raw does not have to be an all or nothing thing; even if i can find ways to incorporate a couple of raw meals/snacks into my day, I am making changeds towards a healthier lifestyle.

  57. I’ve read a few interviews with Sarma now, and my respect and admiration of her just grows. I really resonated with the pressure, the energy and the responsibility it takes to run a large food service operation. I used to do the same in upstate New York and had a staff of 64 that relied on me. The pressure is enormous. I hope to one day have the opportunity to visit Pure Food & Wine and One Lucky Duck takeaway (and maybe even meet this wondrous warrior goddess).

  58. Yes, I love that restaurant! I make my family take me there every year, haha. I actually hope to go again on my birthday (next month), and introduce my friend to raw food. I was most impressed by how fast Sarma was able to make her vision a reality. I was so surprised that her first raw meal was only 6ish years ago!

  59. It is Sarma’s first book that inspired my foray into raw foods. It made this healthy food appear as a beautiful art to me, and what a thing to live and breath, literally? I cite woman as you two to be true inspiration.
    I thank you for living truly and sharing with all the others who happen to stumble upon your path.

  60. Wow, I’m so glad I stopped by today! I’m sitting here eating my dinner and reading this lovely interview. One thing that I took away from Sarma’s interview was her humility! She sounds so down to earth and relatable. I don’t exactly think there is a classification for what kind of meals I eat. I’m not 100% raw, vegan, or even vegetarian, but the majority of what I eat happens to be raw veggies. This is been a natural progression over the years. This interview has me really interested in raw food and especially her 2 week trial idea. Thanks so much! This really made my day!

  61. I was most inspired by the humanity she demonstrated, and the points at which she allowed herself to slip from behind the publisher’s persona, the public image, and the book cover, to reveal her weaknesses, her broke-down sundays, her fears, and her big dreams for her small business. It was refreshing to read so humble an account. When faced with a bookstore wall of glossy, presentational, sales-flash driven covers glossing so many raw food books, it’s not always easy to remember that the minds, lives and personal stories behind them belong to real, flawed, complex, and fallible human beings, and that transitioning, staying the course, and finding balance in daily life may be just as difficult for them as it is for oneself. The humility that was present throughout her interview (and beautiful job on the interview, by the way!) made me all the more intrigued to read her no-recipes, all-thought book, if she ever finds time to write it.

    Thank you very much, Gena, for this lovely interview. It graced my afternoon. All my best, Luc.

  62. I love love love her transition story! I am also inspired by her honesty, and that she is an example of how raw foods/healthy lifestyle can absolutely be a part of a busy, professional life. A lot of people think if you are going to “go raw” or improve your lifestyle, you’ve got to be ready to move out of the city, meditate for hours and throw out the cell phone. Its great to see examples of various lifestyles so we all know there is something for everyone! 🙂

  63. Great interview and Sarma is so pretty! I love raw food! I have her first book, but haven’t seen the second one yet! The restaurant is beautiful with those lights! I have learned from raw food also, like Sarma…..that everything is in moderation and don’t force yourself to do things….it is a process!

    Blessings,

    http://www.alovefornewrecipes.blogspot.com

  64. What a fantastic interview! As stated before, the introduction to raw foods has been an amazing thing for me, but also a struggle. The fact that Sarma “allows” (not the right word, but it works for now) to eat other things, to experience different food, really helped me. I know you and I have talked about the “all or nothing” approach before, but sometimes I still can’t get it out of my head. It’s good to know that even someone as dedicated and creative as Sarma still values the experience of trying new foods from time to time.

    Also, could Pure be ANY MORE beautiful? Wow, get me to NYC immediately!

  65. I agree with a lot of the comments on this interview: it is refreshing and encouraging to see pragmatism instead of dogmatism preached. I love to mix up my diet, but there is no denying how great I feel when I eat mostly raw. That fact is what keeps me coming back to raw.

  66. Thanks for the great interview! I took away that you truly can turn your passion into your career. I’m having a difficult time trying to figure out what to do with my life right now, and it was inspiring to hear how Sarma took something she loved and turned it into a career she loves.

  67. Both of you preach moderation and determining what’s best for oneself in your blogs, which is why they both appeal to me and I read them so religiously! I’ve been able to incorporate some great, simple raw foods into my vegetarian diet thus far (raw goat cheddar, banana soft serve (even the bf loved it!), new juice concoctions, etc)and I look forward to continuing to do so! I’ll be in NYC in october and I can’t wait to hit up Pure and the takeaway! 🙂

    Thanks for writing this blog Gena, and to Sarma for agreeing to the interview! It was a fantastic read!
    -Rita

  68. I really enjoyed this interview. I’m really glad that Sarma is unapologetic about eating non-vegan, because sometimes you have to be flexible! It’s one of my goals in life to get back to New York City and enjoy all that it has to offer with various vegan restaurants, especially Pure Food and Wine!

  69. I like the fact that she does not eat 100% raw all the time and she enjoys all kinds of food!

  70. wow, she’s sounds so sweet! and she’s GORGEOUS! what i took away from this interview is that you don’t have to strictly abide by a certain diet 100% of the time to enjoy what it has to offer. sarma allows herself to try different foods, and enjoy cultural culinary experiences. overall, what i mainly got from this is that eating food should be a pleasurable experience, not an experience overwhelmed by percentages and numbers. there’s no need to think in those types of terms. you don’t have to deny yourself delicious foods that you truly want, just because you feel the need to stick to something 100% of the time.

    oh and i just have to say that pure food and wine looks incredible! whenever people blog about eating there, i get so jealous! and i would LOVE a copy of living raw food! the recipes sarma talked about sound delicious.

  71. I really like the balance that she shows about raw food – about it not being all or nothing. Frankly, I can’t imagine life without chickpeas. But the idea of making these experimental changes and seeing how they affect your health is really key. I’m not raw, vegan, or even vegetarian. But I made an effort early this year to increase the amount of vegan and raw food in my diet, and I have to say…I haven’t been sick once, in almost a year.

  72. i like the fact that even she doesn’t stick to a 100% raw food diet – that there are occasions to “treat’ yourself to what your body is craving, and there is nothing wrong with that.

    i hope to get to pure sooner than later – wish it was more in my nyc work / living neighborhood – that lasagna looks amazing.

  73. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Sarma! (and I just discovered her a few weeks ago) What I love about her is that she isn’t perfect and she is so honest and gives us a lot of personal information (which is exactly what she was concerned about when writing the second book, apparently). How ironic…

  74. I love what Sarma says about her experiment becoming a permanent shift — I totally feel that way about so many food/lifestyle experiments I’ve tried!

  75. I have been eating mostly raw on and off for quite a few years now. Recently I started to get back into eating more raw but was very turned off by the raw food purists. My opinion is that while I know that eating raw makes me feel the best of any diet I have tried, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with eating a little cooked food every now and then, or even having an occasional piece of cheese. I tried to have conversations with some of these raw foodies about whether it is really necessary to eat 100% raw all the time and their general attitude was “if you aren’t eating 100% raw you aren’t trying hard enough,” and they implied that my very questioning of the need to eat 100% raw all the time was a sign of my mental weakness.

    If I am out at a good restaurant, and I know they use fresh, organic ingredients, and the food sounds delicious, I am not going to not try something new because it’s not raw! It is very good to see that other people are flexible in their attitudes and that I am not alone in my desire to eat something cooked every now and then. (Or even something non-vegan!)

  76. This is a fantastic interview, Gena!

    Since I’m fairly new to eating raw I haven’t heard of Sarma Mengailis but I love how down-to-earth she seems. Forgive me if I’m repeating other commentors, but I really like how honest Sarma is about her approach to a raw lifestyle and that she doesn’t spend each day thinking about what percentage of her diet is or is not raw. It’s good to know that a well-known author allows herself to eat cooked meals on occasion and doesn’t worry too much about consuming beans, etc. It makes it easy for someone like me, who is just starting out with raw eating, to realize that this isn’t about following a specific diet or plan. It’s not about perfection…and it’s not about changing overnight!

    That makes me feel even better. 🙂

  77. Great interview, Gena! You asked some great questions and I really appreciated Sarma’s thoughtful responses. I really enjoyed reading about her favorite dishes and can’t wait to explore more of the menu on future visits to Pure 🙂

  78. Wow – can’t believe I won the last giveaway. So cool, especially since I started reading your blog only recently. Thanks, Gena!

    As far as this interview goes, I really liked Sarma’s approach to raw eating – it isn’t an all-or-nothing proposition. I think this is what scares a lot of folks away from vegan/vegetarian diets – that there’s some kind of “food police” out there who will shake their finger at you if you “fall off the wagon.” It’s an honest and refreshing take.

  79. Fantastic interview! I appreciate Sarma’s honesty, both regarding what she eats and how she occasionally feels overwhelmed and needs a day or so to destress.

  80. Amazing interview! I love that she is open to eating what she wants, even if it is not raw all of the time. She sounds like she is great at juggling around so many different tasks and opportunities. I need to get myself to Pure asap!

  81. I’ve been reading Sarma’s blog recently, and I’m glad to see her interview held true to her tell-all, honest, open approach to eating and to life. I just started becoming interested in a raw foods lifestyle, and her blog makes me feel like I can start this journey without the fear of never tasting certain things ever again in my whole life. I would kill to have a copy of her book, I just moved to San Diego from the East coast so I am totally broke and can’t afford to buy one right now.

    The biggest tidbit I took away from the interview is that Pure doesn’t hire raw/vegans exclusively, or much at all. I found this surprising and yet ingenious – of course the best way to be welcoming to all types is to have all types working there. I love my vegan/raw/vegetarian brothers and sisters but a lot of them can be judgmental or condescending to those outside the circle. I hope and pray I can eat at Pure one day!

  82. I love that Sarma doesn’t come across as a guru!..she makes eating RAW look sexy and obtainable..she is definetly keeping it real!

  83. Great interview Gina!

    I like how Sarma talks about not focusing too much on being 100% vegan or raw. I think life is all about a good balance. I like that she eats raw most of the time because it makes her feel good – but knows that if she wants to stray it’s nothing to fret over!

  84. Thanks so much for this interview. I found it refreshing to hear that she is able to juggle so many responsibilities but it doesn’t necessarily come easy. I wish she didn’t have crash and burn days but think it’s healthy that she allows for those when they hit. Her recipes sound amazing.

  85. Wow! This blog is such a great find and this interview was great! I’ve been getting closer and closer to the raw food jump (in my head not in what I’ve been cooking… ha!) and this made it seem like such an easy… “just try it” way… like there was no way to fail! I’ll definitely be back and will have to actually try some raw recipes!

  86. I really loved the your post. Especially love how you described neighborhood restaurants. I have never been to New York, but this gives such a great picture. I also really enjoyed the question #6 and totally relate with Sarma’s answer. I think we all wish some days we could flake and head to Hawaii. Thanks for this post, it was fun and encouraging to read. =D

  87. Thanks for this interview! Sometimes I get down on myself for endulging in non-raw foods during my transition, but it’s so nice to hear from your blog and Sarma that it’s okay to go non-raw every once and a while, whether for a special occasion or when going to a fancy new restaurant. Thanks for the affirmation and support. And, it’s true, that these little non-raw blips on my radar do make me crave green juices and other yummy raw foods. I’m making mint cacao chip ice cream tonight!

    Thanks, again,
    Kari

  88. dang gena, you know how to work up a girls appetite!!! obviously, i adore this restaurant after my dinner date there last month, so it was LOVELY to read about sarma and hear her thoughts. i literally think i could eat there every day for the rest of my life and never get tired of it. i found it so surprising how she discovered the raw world. it really goes to show you that you can really benefit from approaching food with an open mind. i love that her attitude about dining is all about the experience. the things shes willing to go un-raw for all seem to fall into the category of quality dishes that are less about the actual item, and more about the dining experience. i think thats a fabulous way to eat. oh, and chickpea cravings?? i knew i liked her 🙂
    thanks for an inspiring and informative interview. now, when are we going to go to pure together? i wanna check out the outside dining area, since it was POURING when i went with liz.

  89. kudos! as others have said, i love the voice of tolerance and acceptance both of sarma and of this blog. i love the freshness of approaching healthy delicious food to reach all tastes and preferences. the spirit of exploring foods and living a beautiful life is contagious. thanks!

  90. What a fabulous interview! Thank you for sharing that with us. As always, your writing is beautiful and inspiring.

  91. i am so surprised and heartened to see that she has such an open, flexible attitude toward what she eats. what a healthy attitude. and what a beauty!

  92. I always thought Sarma was just so beautiful and so amazing! How she manages to keep her head on straight with everything she does is beyond me.

    One thing that really surprised me was that Pure rarely (if ever) hires raw vegans because they don’t want their patrons to feel judged. I think that is incredibley compassionate and very intiutive on her part. It’s intimidating to start something new like this and the fact that she wants to create an environment that is friendly and open to these individuals is fantastic: no one is going to dive into a way of life that they feel uneasy in. I would really love to go to Pure sometime soon and meet Sarma in person, she seems amazingly down-to-earth.

  93. Thanks Gena and Sarma! I loved that she gives into cravings for things like beans or the special beet dish. Thanks Again!

  94. I love the fact that Sarma took a passion and made a life out of it, very inspiring and that she isn’t going to deprive her body of what it’s craving, thats what being healthy is, knowing what to give your body and being able to enjoy with no regret.

  95. Gina- you really are a great writer and I want to thank you for asking such thoughtful questions. The interview was both fun and serious. I really appreciate how honest Sarma is, especially when she was talking about her “crash mode.” I think that when anyone famous admittedly shares their vulnerabilities or tougher times, it helps people see their humanity and allows us to relate to them. It makes it easier for me to deal with my own struggles.

    And of course I am loving those drool-worthy photos!

  96. I love her open relationship with raw foods!!! It’s great and something everyone can learn by 🙂

  97. Oh Gena-face, you know Sarma is speakin’ my language right here. She leads an open-minded lifestyle and that’s definitely how I would like to describe myself. Way to lead by example! The raw community is really lucky to have her in the ranks, if not for her food alone.

    Eating at Pure is certainly an earth-shattering experience, so if Sarma’s writing, I’m reading.

    …and scoring one of her books for free would be really helpful on that front right about now.

  98. Gena, how exciting! and what a great interview.

    I love that she doesn’t put percentages on her days or how much raw she eats or doesn’t eat. obviously, it would be pretty easy for her to eat 100% raw with her store and restaurant. One thing that has kind of been a misconception to me is that I keep thinking that it’s much more complicated than it actually is. it doesn’t have to fit into a percentage or specific formula at all!

  99. Great interview Gena – thanks so much! I’m dying to fly up to NYC and meet up with you at PURE. Someday, okay?

    One think I took away from the interview with Sarma was the fact that even if you’re eating mostly raw, there is nothing wrong with eating cooked foods if that’s what you’re really craving. I love that when she wants chickpeas, she just eats them. I need to remember to try some with macadamia nut oil, lime juice, and sea salt – that sounds delicious!

  100. I like how Sarma makes room for some cooked foods in her diet every once in awhile. Also, I want the recipe for the mint sundae!

  101. Like others who have already commented, I’m glad to know that Sarma doesn’t get wrapped up in what she’s eating all of the time, and allows herself to eat something cooked or non-vegan if she has a craving for it. It’s all about balance (even though Sarma isn’t keeping track!)

  102. I appreciate her candor for saying she occasionally eats non-raw. That is awesome that she has balance and isn’t all-raw-or-nothing!

  103. Awesome interview! I enjoyed reading it. Kudos to both of you. I thought it was interesting that she doesn’t need a post-meal nap after a fabulous and filling raw meal.

  104. awesome interview!!! i love how sarma is extremely down to earth about the raw lifestyle, making it seem approachable and not entirely hard to live by. it’s nice to know that one does not have to be 100% raw to reap the benefits!!

  105. i love that she admits that she’s not 100% strict and that she’s not going to say she never eats anything cooked and acknowledges the fact that sometimes food is an experience beyond just how it makes you feel. on the same token, she’s open with the fact that she wouldn’t do it if she didn’t want to– and if it didn’t make her feel great! awesome interview 🙂

  106. Hi Gena, thanks so much for this interview! It made me realize there are many more raw restaurants/resources in NYC than in Minneapolis – and has inspired me (again, as your site tends to do!) to get more active in the raw community here.

    K

  107. Sarma is so inspiring! Thanks, Gena! Besides the whole feeling amazing all the time on raw thing, I have to say the best part of this lifestyle is that there is no judgement. If you want sushi you don’t have to beat yourself up for it. It’s funny to me that people think my diet is so restrictive. I don’t feel like it is. I just choose not to eat quite a few things. I love Sarma’s story of her transition to raw. All it takes is one meal 🙂 Mine went exactly the same way-an experiment turned permanent fixture in my life.

  108. thanks for sharing! it’s so nice to know that sarma doesn’t eat all raw all the time. once again, balance is key.

  109. awesome interview! i appreciated hearing that she doesn’t live in percentages or get bothered by a bowl of amazing borscht or cooked beans 🙂 it’s all about balance and what makes you feel good, right?

  110. I’ve always loved how Sarma (and Gena, too) isn’t so caught up in percent raw or vegan – she eats what makes sense for her, and obviously it works! For me, if I try to do 100% anything, my inner two-year-old throws such a tantrum I’m in for almost immediate failure. If I tell myself it’s about making smart choices, eating mindfully, and occasionally splurging, I’m likely to make better choices & feel so much happier about it.

    So much of the food world is about extremes and percentages and militance – it’s nice to have voices of sanity like Sarma’s.

  111. Awesome interview!
    My favorite thing about this article is that Sarma isn’t a purist; she’s not afraid to try non-vegan and non-raw restaurant items, and doesn’t let the raw lifestyle shut her off from the (often incredible) world of cooked foods, yet she maintains a raw/vegan lifestyle the rest of the time. Love it!

  112. Great interview!

    I think it was interesting to hear about her take on eating how she feels (rather than a specific percentage of cooked vs. raw) I also liked hearing about her favourite recipes! I can’t wait to get to Pure when I finally make it to NYC.

  113. I’m so impressed with Sarma because of her beauty, conscience, and incredible business sense… I’m just reiterating what everyone else said, but I found Sarma’s desire to eat raw but not limit or confine herself to only raw foods refreshing… I don’t think anyone should eat raw because they force themselves. Then it becomes a “diet” and not a way of life…

  114. Great interview! Those desserts always sounds so tempting to me. I most appreciated how Sarma ate squid in Tokyo, ate a bowl of borscht — she doesn’t herself back from what she wants. If she wants something, she has it, while still maintaining a mostly raw lifestyle.

  115. Love the interview. Thanks Gena for making it possible. 🙂 I like Sarma’s open-mindedness about eating raw. You don’t have to feel guilty cause you eat something cooked once in a while.

  116. I like a lot her approach to raw food life style, not sticking to any %, just be kind and have fun! 🙂 Great interview!

  117. I love that her zest for life comes through in this interview. She’s not bogged down by a “label” and goes with the flow. She doesn’t let her lifestyle stop her from trying something new. You don’t have to eat 20 squid in order to try squid. And just because you try it, doesn’t mean that your condemned for being a bad vegetarian/vegan. While she lives her life a certain way – most of the time -, she is very free and open to a new experiences. What’s great is that openess allows you to appreciate your lifestyle even more.
    Nice interview. The new book is a great giveaway.

  118. Oh I dream about that mint sundae Gena…and I don’t even like sweets all that much. Thanks gorgeous, for your continual sharing of the healthy living message.

    Much love,
    Case x

  119. i like the idea that she’s not strict about being 100% raw and that it’s ok to try other stuff, especially while travelling because food is such a big part of learning about different culture.

  120. Hi Gena! I found your blog via your guest post @ Katie’s…loving it so far.

    I’ve admired Sarma ever since I first got my hands on a copy of Raw Food Real World back in 2005. Her recipes are outstanding, her honesty is refreshing, and her beauty is a testament to a healthy raw lifestyle. I can’t wait to read her new book…and many more in the future!

  121. My sister in law lives in NYC and is musical director for 9 to 5 (while it lasts). We are planning a visit to see her and my #1 stop is Pure Food and One Lucky Duck!!! Thank you for blogging about it so the rest of us have the privalage of knowing about such a wonderful place. I love that Sarma takes life as it comes. She is mindful of quality ingredients and quality time with friends and not bogged down with rules. Fabulous!

  122. I’ve known about eating raw, but haven’t really taken much time to learn about it. But in the last few months, I’ve been focusing more on my eating habits and reading your blog has in essence opened a whole new world of eating. It’s all very interesting and fascinating to me.

    Thanks for sharing Sarma’s interview with us. I too enjoyed her candidness about her eating habits, her restaurant, and businesses. I get the feeling that she is very down to earth and straightfoward. Two characteristics I admire in people.

    You are offering a great giveaway, thanks for the opportunity!

  123. This interview was incredibly inspiring – I’m very slowly transitioning into making my diet more raw/vegan based and this was just so nice to read.

    The one thing that I took away from this interview was her attitude towards being raw, or more so about not being completely raw all the time- I always find it so intimidating when I hear people are completely raw and that they never stray off plan. Her attitude about trying new foods and eating things if she’s really craving them is really refreshing to hear – esp. to an aspiring raw foodist, like me.

    Needless to say this is an amazing giveaway, I would absolutely love to win this book!

  124. Wow, what a great interview and fantastic giveaway.

    I have seen Sarma around the blogsphere lately and I must admit, I am entirely infatued with her entire philosophy and tactics. She has the most beautiful array of eclectic recipes and I would be honored to dive into her book and try some myself.

    Thanks so much for sharing her words of wisdom and providing this opportunity to experience some of her creations!

  125. My 17-year-old daughter has just ‘gone’ vegetarian. I’ve been reading your blog for a while now for inspiration and with summer approaching I can see us adjusting more and more towards raw.

  126. amazing.
    she does GLOW.

    her approach to life + cuisine is so refreshing and utterly inspiring.

    great interview gena.
    you are THE best.

    x

  127. Wow what an amazing interview…both you Gena for scoring it! and to Sarma for her honesty and depth. Couple things I took away…one, that she didn’t like the cover of the book. Ya know, I have wondered about that, but figured she was going for Raw Sexy to sell Raw Food LOL but now I know it was an editorial move. And more importantly, it was interesting to read that she’s in total hunker-down and work her butt off mode right now building her business and that it does come with sacrifice. No one builds an empire and says oh yeah, that was super easy. Anyway, thanks Gena for making this interview happen!
    Averie

  128. I love that she leaves room in her life to taste other things and not feel bad or kick herself for going off the raw diet. Life is short and sometimes we have to relax. I also like both of your approaches to simplicity. I am not raw or vegan, but I am trying hard to incorporate many of these principles into my diet and my families…slowly….the turtle did win the race, right?

    I agree on the green drinks I have been drinking green smoothies for almost two years now and miss them very much if I don’t get a chance to have one daily.

    You are really inspiring me to make more changes, albeit small and slow.

    Thanks:) Laurene

  129. What an awesome interview! The one thing I take away from this interview is the comfort in knowing that there is no reason to feel pressured to go 100 % raw right away. It’s different for everyone, just like her experience shows.

  130. I love Pure. And I’m so excited Sarma has put out a second cookbook. I can’t wait to dig into this one!

  131. I love Sarma’s approach of hiring non-raw staff to make the restaurant welcoming to everyone. I am sure this inspires customers to be more open-minded as well. I love that her raw diet is driven by a love of the food and the energy it gives, not restriction and the like. I am envious that she has all-around access to great raw food, but it solidifies what has worked for me- having my raw (and cooked) foods at home that are my core diet, and being flexible when eating out.
    And of course this further calls me to try the restaurant- what a great model of what a restaurant can be. Hopefully will get to NY within a year or two!

  132. I have always thought Sarma was something of a goddess, and I loved this interview. She is so intelligent and driven and totally sexy and as far from the raw hippie stereotype as I could imagine. I really liked/ took away that as much as you value and uphold your lifestyle choices, you can leave room for those of others and curiousity, such as eating something your boyfriend makes with love. I also took away that i need that book, if only for the compressed salad recipe alone, yum!

    do i win? wink wink!

    Thanks for the great interview gena and sarma!

  133. I’m a transitioning (towards) vegan and came across your blog one day. After reading a few posts, I subscribed because I enjoyed how well thought out your posts were. I was telling my friend about it yesterday and commenting about how I really LEARN something every time I read a post and although they are and although longer than most blog posts, I actually READ them, rather than just scanning through it and marking it read (like a lot of other blogs). Regardless, I am interested in raw but haven’t yet experimented too much, I’m sitting here after eating my first raw meal (at a new local restaurant) feeling lighter, more energized, and able to think much clearer than I can remember in years. I am definitely going to make time to incorporate more raw foods into my diet. I enjoyed reading this post because I find that like your’s, it lacked pretension which can be found in a lot of articles written by people who adhere to a strict diet (vegan, raw etc.). Thanks so much! I can see how you will continue to be more of an inspiration!

  134. I really appreciate her approach to her diet. Her low stress attitude about how raw she is focuses on why she’s raw: because it works for her life and body, not because the number matters.

    Thanks for a great post!

  135. What a fun interview! I love Sarma’s open minded approach to food- eating what makes her feel good (and tastes good) but not being afraid to eat out of the raw realm should something special come along.

  136. I was surprised (in a good way) about her flexibility with eating. I guess I figured it would be harder, with the pressure of being on books that label her as raw, and being attached to the raw trend, to diverge from it without dealing with people calling her out. But I guess that is unavoidable and something she has learned to deal with 🙂

  137. Really interesting interview. I found Sarma’s honesty refreshing. She feels pressure just like any other business woman and knows that a plethora of other people rely on her to do her job correctly.

  138. I found it interesting and smart that they don’t hire many raw/ vegans at Pure. I agree with Sarma that if they did people could easily feel judged or like outsiders. I’d love to visit the restaurant sometime; it sounds great!

  139. I LOVED this interview! I think Sarma has a wonderful, seemingly stress-free perspective on eating raw foods or choosing not to occasionally. I also love that she mentioned that this new book is divided into simpler versus more ambitious recipes–I am dying to get my hands on a copy to try some of these recipes out for myself! Thanks for the giveaway opportunity!

  140. what an interesting interview!!! i love her “no numbers” approach. i do believe that is the right way to go about it. thank you!!!

  141. Loved this! Pure is still on my need-to-go-to list. I can’t believe I haven’t made it there yet! I think it’s interesting that they try NOT to hire raw or vegan staff for the restaurant to ensure no one feels like they’re being judged. It seems Sarma is extremely thoughtful in her approach to her businesses.

  142. Awesome interview!!!

    I loved it because it helps me to realize that raw food eating is pretty accessible. I was doing the Raw Food Wednesday a while back but I knew I couldn’t like like that all the time. It’s pretty great to know that even Salma herself has non-raw food days! 🙂

  143. I love that sarma doesn’t keep track of numbers of percentages. Food is meant to be enjoyed! Especially yummy vegan food :).

  144. first of all i love love love pure and eating there and takeaway when i’m in the city. i always get quite excited when sarma is actually there. i love that she plays SUCH an active role in her business! and i love that she admits here that she is not “perfect” i think a lot of us feel like you have to be 100% or “it doesnt count” but her approach is much more balanced! great interview!

  145. I like that Sarma has a core of a “normal diet” for her, but is willing to try other things as she sees fit, and instead of feeling guilt for what she is or isn’t eating, associates the things she eats with physical feelings such as the “heavy, want-to-take-a-nap-now feeling” after a big restaurant dinner [rather than just the oh-I-shouldn’t-have-eaten-that feeling].

  146. Wow, what a great interview. It was reassuring to hear Sarma say that “if I end up in a really nice restaurant that uses good ingredients, I’ll try just about anything”. I find it relatively easy to stick to my vegan diet during my day-to-day life but, every once in awhile, I’ll end up in a truly amazing restaurant that I don’t want to miss out on – and life’s just too short!

  147. That was a great interview Gena! I found it interesting to hear that Sarma will have squids on vacation…. I tend to be an all or nothing type of person, so it’s helpful to sometimes remind myself that one incident of “falling off the wagon” won’t kill me!

  148. Great interview!! I have Sarma’s first book Raw Food Real World and have been slowly making my way through it. I am by no means high raw or vegan…but slowly I have been making some changes 🙂 I love the fact that Sarma herself doesn’t “calculate” percentages when it comes to her eating. I enjoy the fact that she would eat anything put infront of her in Tokyo including squid!

    Again great interview..I enjoyed reading. I have ordered some stuff from One Lucky Duck (cookies and “quackers”) and I wish I could have a place like that here 🙂

  149. I love that she is open to trying different foods once in a while, like the sushi in Tokyo. It’s nice to see that a raw foods diet, or any diet for that matter, doesn’t need to be all or nothing.

    Pure is definitely on my list of must-visits next time I’m in NYC! 🙂

  150. I loved reading Sarma’s interview. I liked that she mentioned exploring different foods and flavors. I think that’s a huge part of being a good chef (raw or not); opening our mind to new flavor profiles and possibilities. It’s refreshing to see that viewpoint from a raw foodist!

    Emily from Healthy Eating, Naturally

  151. Loved the interview! I just wish I lived closer to NYC. I’m taking away her flexible mindset (that it is okay to honor some cooked cravings).

  152. I love that she said if a restaurant has good, quality ingredients, she’ll try anything – if she thinks it’s worth it. I think this is what ALL of us should aspire to – eat healthy 90% of the time, so every once in a while we can really indulge in other things.

    P.S. I also get wild cravings for black beans 🙂

  153. I took away that you don’t have to go raw 100% overnight. It can be a transition and it’s not intimidating!

    Thanks for this amazing interview and this great giveaway!

  154. What a great interview! I currently have Sarma’s first cookbook on hold at the library, and I can’t wait to read it! Like others, I like that she makes room for cooked foods, but actually more specifically beans. I have been trying raw for about a month now and haven’t had beens, I am caught up in worrying about miscombining! I can’t wait to read the new book!

  155. Lovely interview.

    I share Sarma’s view that experience – especially cultural diversions – trumps rules and percentages, and shouldn’t be given too much energy or thought. She’s non-preachy and very modest, without the militancy one often seems among raw foodists/vegans.

    Thanks, Gena.

  156. Great interview! I also work 5 blocks from Pure/One Lucky Duck, but haven’t had much of a chance to take advantage of them yet. Forgive my ignorance, but I didn’t know there was so much wiggle room for cooked foods in the raw diet.

  157. Wonderful interview and a fabulous lady! I love the fact that she said that from time to time she does eat non-raw food. I recently allowed myself that same gentle approach and I feel so relieved that I did. Hope to visit her restaurant one day. Everyone only has high praises about it.

  158. What a fantastic interview, Gena! You got skillz 🙂 Sarma seems like such an open minded and kind person. I really want to come to NYC now!! If anything, just to eat some delicious food…and meet you, of course!

  159. I love how real Sarma is! I like how honest she was about not agreeing with her publisher about the cover of her book. I just went to Pure Food and Wine in July and it is definitely my new favorite restaurant. The mint sundae is amazing!!

  160. One thing I always love when I read about Sarma is that she is very honest about how she eats! Her openness to occasional non-raw eats is very inspiring for an all-or-nothing kind of girl like me! I’m working on a more sane perspective like hers 🙂

  161. I am really interested in trying some raw recipes. In fact, I think I have tried her raw lasagne, and it was very good.

  162. thank you sarma, for being unapologetic about eating non-vegan or whatever you’re craving once in a while!