Chefs Marissa Provence and Missy Christy Maidana with some of the 2,000 raw vegan Mallomars they made for a Netflix promotion of the new documentary series “Bad Vegan.”  Photo courtesy of Missy Christy Maidana

Not just anyone can make 2,000 raw vegan Mallomars in five days. The treats involve 15 laborious steps, including overnight soaking of three types of nuts; dehydrating the soaked nuts for up to three days; turning them into cookies and then dehydrating the cookies; making a vanilla whip from cashews and coconut and freezing it for 24 hours; and finally assembling all the parts and coating them in chocolate.

But private chef Missy Christy Maidana of Arundel is up to the task.

Netflix recently flew Maidana to New York City, where she created the signature dessert from the influential but long-closed vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine. Netflix and food delivery service Postmates delivered the Mallomars, along with vegan Caesar salad and raw lasagna, to some lucky New Yorkers for free, as a promotion for the documentary “Bad Vegan.” Should you want to try Maidana’s Mallomars yourself, Bandaloop in Arundel is offering them on its menu this weekend.

Pure Food and Wine was founded in 2004 by chefs Matthew Kenney, a Maine native, and Sarma Melngailis. Years after Kenney left, things at the restaurant became weird.

“We would always say, ‘This should be a movie,’” recalled Maidana, who worked at Pure Food and Wine from 2010 to 2015, rising to become head pastry chef and taking maternity leave just weeks before the restaurant’s infamous closing. “And now it’s on Netflix. It’s so surreal.”

I asked Maidana about 2014, when things were unraveling at Pure Food and Wine and One Lucky Duck, its associated juice bar.

Advertisement

“Me, being a manager, I started hearing about money being gone and Sarma not being in New York and why she was not going back to her apartment,” recalled Maidana, who continues to make some of the restaurant’s dishes for her private clients in Maine. “When she would come to the restaurant, she was still lovely and caring. But the accountant who had been there for many, many years left, and then we had different accountants come through. One morning in One Lucky Duck, people saw broken glass and blood, like a fight had taken place. We didn’t know how bad it was.”

Maidana left the restaurant and moved to Maine. The restaurant closed not long after, following a staff walk-out in March 2015. Then Melngailis emailed Maidana, who was working at a Biddeford restaurant, and asked if she’d consider coming back to help reopen Pure Food and Wine.

“I moved back to New York City for a couple months with my seven month old and lived with my in-laws,” Maidana said, adding that she and another former chef who agreed to return made Melngailis pledge that all the workers would receive their back pay before the restaurant reopened. Pure Food and Wine reopened in May, according to Maidana, who returned to Maine.

“We had friends and family with jobs there and it was fine for a while,” Maidana said. “Then the same things started happening. Vendors weren’t getting paid. Then people started not to get paid again. Then she disappeared again.”

Before the drama, Maidana remembers Pure Food and Wine fondly.

“While I worked there, I met my husband, Jorge, who worked his way up to be a manager,” Maidana said. “A couple other people met significant others and had babies because of Pure. My kids and my career and my family wouldn’t be alive without that place. It was such a special place to work. I feel they captured that really well in the documentary. The food was incredible and my coworkers were really, truly a family. We really did call Sarma, Sarmama. I really, truly believe she got caught up with the wrong guy, like a cult, and it just got a hold of her. I don’t believe she intended for any of this to happen. I still respect her.”

Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at

[email protected]
Social media: AveryYaleKamila

Related Headlines


Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.