At My Desk: Raw Food Guru Sarma Melngailis Has a Letter From a President and Gourmet Snacks

Sharon Feiereisen

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You can tell a lot about a person by snooping through their desk: Are they the tchotchke type, or the gold-plated staples type? Do they scribble their thoughts in a Moleskine notebook, or Postalco? Our At My Desk series offers an up-close-and-personal glimpse at some seriously stylish office spaces.
A former banker, Sarma Melngailis now sits atop a raw-food empire that includes Pure Food and Wine—a swanky raw-vegan eatery frequented by the likes of Bill Clinton, Gisele Bündchen, Woody Harrelson, and Owen Wilson—and a growing chain of raw food and juice takeaway spots, One Lucky Duck. We stopped by Melngailis’ New York City office to find out where the woman behind New York’s City’s only (and best) $7 rainbow cookie gets her work done.
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1. Paper Weight/Statue: “My mother gave it to me,” Melngailis says. “She said it reminded her of me.”
2. Magazines: “I have Gourmet [magazines] dating back about 20 years,” shared Melngailis. “I’ve always loved food magazines. When Conde Nast announced that they would be shutting down Gourmet I wrote a whole eulogy on my blog. I don’t read food magazines as much anymore, but I still subscribe to Saveur and Food & Wine.
3. Gourmet Dog Food: Melngailis always has treats nearby for her dog Leon, including Bocce’s Bakery Treats that are made using organic human-grade ingredients and that she sells on her website.
4. Smartphones: “I have two phones—I couldn’t give up my Blackberry. It’s just so much faster to type on it so it’s what I use anytime I have a long email to write.”
5. Calculator: “I got this calculator in ’94 when I was working at Bear Sterns as an investment banker and have been using it ever since.”
6. Snacks: “I’m not much of a sweets person so I’m usually snacking on something salty. Right now I’m loving our Macadamia Cheddar Crunch, which we recently launched.”
7. Childhood Photos: A childhood photo of Melngailis that hangs in her office.
8. Letter From a President: “Bill Clinton has dined at Pure a few times. After his first visit he wrote me this letter. I photocopied it so I could preserve the original—of course now I’m having a hard time remembering where the original is…”
9. Notebooks: “I’ve tried a bunch of those organizational apps, but in the end I always go back to notebooks. The only problem is that I always seem to have about five of them that I’m using at once and can never remember where I wrote down what.”
10. Green Juice: “I drink a lot of water, but especially after traveling, you’ll always find a green juice on my desk. I drink about three of these a day. Swan Greens is my favorite.”
11. Books: “I always have a few books that I’m reading,” Melngailis shared. On her reading list at the moment? Drift by Rachel Maddow.
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12. Dog: “I got Leon three years ago when he was 40 pounds,” says Melngailis. “He’s now 75 pounds, but he’s usually relatively calm. Sometimes he’ll start barking when he sees me talking to someone and wants attention.”
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13. Taxidermy: “People are always surprised that I have this,” says Melngailis. “I found it in this weird basement second hand shop…I don’t condone hunting, but I like it and I’d rather have it here than have it be sitting there dusty in a corner.”
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