Bad Vegan: What Are the Employees of Pure Food and Wine Doing Now?

Bad Vegan What Are the Employees of Pure Food and Wine Doing Now

In Bad Vegan, former restaurant employees talk about where they are today and how they got there.

Former employees of vegan restaurant Pure Food and Wine are the voices of reason in the new docuseries Bad Vegan: Fame. Fraud. Fugitives.

Netflix spoke with former servers, bartenders, chefs, and others to find out what they’re up to today, how Pure Food and Wine influenced their careers, and if they have any final thoughts on what transpired.

Joey Repice
Joey Repice / Netflix

Former beverage director Joey Repice

  • Is he still working in the restaurant industry? No.
  • Currently residing in the city of Ashland, Oregon.

“After the demise of Pure Food and Wine, I came out west and worked in a few different restaurants in LA, and then, out of love for my wife, I established and created Joey’s Hot Sauce,” he says.

“The most fantastic thing that happened at Pure Food and Wine is that I got to meet my wife,” he says of how working there inspired his career. I fell in love with her the moment I locked eyes with her… I wouldn’t have launched my Joey’s Hot Sauce business if it hadn’t been for the demise of Pure Food and Wine. Who knows what would have transpired if that had been the case?”

Do you have any final thoughts? – “All you have to do is stay in touch with the people you care about.” Isolate yourself… There are some very amazing people in the world. Just stay with them, contribute, and attempt to help.”

See Also: Where is Sarma Melngailis’ Father ‘John Melngailis’ Now?
Nikki King Bennett
Nikki King Bennett / Netflix

Former executive chef Nikki King Bennett

  • Is she still working in the restaurant industry? No.
  • Miami is where she currently reside.

“After Pure Food and Wine, I moved on to be a founding member of Plantable, a plant-based, health-focused meal-delivery company based in Brooklyn,” she says. Following that, I decided to start my own business called Mostly Vegan… We go into current or new businesses and help them learn more about plant-based food, menu planning, restaurant layout, operations, and so forth.

The goal of Mostly Vegan is to get more people to consume a more plant-based diet. I believe it is better for the environment and for the overall health of all humanity.”

“Overall, it was really a beautiful experience for me,” she says of her time at Pure Food and Wine. It was crucial in preparing me for my future career. It was a beautiful environment to work in. The terrible stuff doesn’t completely take that away from me, which I appreciate.

There are a lot of melancholy feelings. I’m sorry for the employees that have lost their employment. Because, as I previously stated, I’ve referred to it as a family.

When Pure shut down, everyone had to split and go their separate ways. I’m heartbroken since it was such a beautiful place to be.”

Do you have any final thoughts? – “No. Not in front of the camera, no way! [additional laughter]”

Former food runner and server Maiquen Saez-Vega

  • Is he still working in the restaurant industry? Yes.
  • New York City is where he currently reside.

“Since leaving Pure Food and Wine, I’ve moved around several restaurants,” he says. The pandemic had struck. I’m currently operating a restaurant in Harlem, so I’m still in the restaurant business.”

“They gave me the foundation that I needed,” he says of his time at Pure Food and Wine. “I just took everything I learned there and applied it to other places, and I just grew.”

The transition from Pure Food and Wine to where I am today has been simple: going into different restaurants and using what I’ve learned about service and how to treat people, particularly those with dietary restrictions, and being able to cope with them.”

Do you have any final thoughts? – “Man, I just want to send out a shout-out to everyone in my Pure Food and Wine family. “I’m missing you guys.”

Jim Switzer
Jim Switzer / Netflix

Former operations manager Jim Switzer

  • Is he still working in the restaurant industry? In a way.
  • Hudson Valley, New York, is where he currently reside.

“I’m still working with restaurants,” he says. I’m currently employed as a baker and enrolled in Oregon State University’s online programme. “I’m working on a sustainability degree, and then we’ll see what happens.”

“At Pure Food and Wine… I did a lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff, including carting, which includes waste, compost, and recycling, and I also dealt with a lot of the food sourcing,” he says.

A lot of the stuff at Pure Food and Wine came from all around the world, and it all has to do with sustainability. I believe that managing a restaurant sustainably is an idea that came to me while I was working at Pure Food and Wine, where I was continuously trying to think of new ways and things to make the restaurant more sustainable.

I honestly don’t think I’d ever heard the phrase sustainability before I started working at Pure Food and Wine.”

Do you have any final thoughts? – “I’ve worked at a lot of different places and learnt a lot from a lot of different individuals.” A gentleman who strolled around every Friday and presented each individual their check as if he was delighted to be paying them was the ideal example of a thankful employer.

It brought him great pleasure to compensate his employees for their contributions to his business, and that taught me something. That taught me to value the people who work for you and to value your support for them, since that is what it is all about.

They support you through their employment, and you support their lives and families through your wage. There is a lack of respect when there is a breakdown in that.”

Nick Ross, a former server and floor manager at One Lucky Duck who also worked with Sarma Melngailis,

  • Is he still working in the restaurant industry? No.
  • Denver is where he  currently reside.

“I left Pure Food and Wine in 2007, and then I was diagnosed with cancer…,” he says now. [I] underwent eight months of chemotherapy and then returned to working in New York restaurants, but not at Pure Food and Wine.

Then I started developing web series that were well-received… At the Moth storytelling series, I tell a lot of stories. It’s a podcast that broadcasts these shows all throughout the United States and the world. So many stories [about] this historical period and the persons involved have been told to me.”

“Pure Food and Wine was my early education in living in a major city, managing a tonne of ambitious individuals, and dealing with clientele,” he says of his time there.

Restaurants are wonderful for developing [these] kind of soft skills, such as how to communicate and how to take criticism and not be bothered… Pure Food and Wine was a fantastic location, but it was also extremely demanding and difficult… I can’t thank Pure Food and Wine enough for being the ideal location for a young man just starting out in his career.”

Do you have any final thoughts? – “I believe the most important takeaway is to be truthful. Just be truthful. What a pity to witness such a heightened, frightening effect of dishonesty.”

Bonnie Crocker
Bonnie Crocker / Netflix

Former manager Bonnie Crocker

  • Is she still working in the restaurant industry? No.
  • California is where she currently reside.

“I’m a funeral coordinator, bereavement minister, and grief counsellor,” she says now. For the past six years, I’ve been a bereavement minister at my church, and I co-facilitate grief support groups… I adore what I do for a living.

It’s an honour to be with grieving individuals and hear about their loved ones, because there’s a fantastic saying that goes, ‘What is a pain if not love persevering?’ And I get a similar feeling about Pure — it’s stupid, but it’s true.

There were no deaths, but there was a lot of grief in this storey, and there was never a burial, memorial, or anything for Pure.”

“Having that experience really helps you in life, I think, in interacting with people and thinking about the reality that you never know what’s going on with someone else…,” she says of her time at Pure Food and Wine.

There was this couple that would come into the restaurant with this adorable kid, and I ended up babysitting her and spending time with them.

The father informed me that he volunteered as a hospice volunteer in New York, which piqued my attention. So I volunteered at a hospice there, and that really spoke to me.”

Do you have any final thoughts? “I hope people will learn from this that empathy is critical — critical — in life.” I’m not blaming anyone or anything, but no matter how well you think you know someone, you never really know what they’re going through.”

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