If it wasn’t for Alec Baldwin, Vegan restaurateur Sarma Melngailis, 49, might never have turned into a fugitive – or so she claims. Apparently, her scammer ex-husband Anthony Strangis was able to win over her trust because he was interacting with Alec Baldwin on Twitter, making her think that the pair were close friends. Melngailis’s downfall of her restaurant Pure Food and Wine has been documented on Netflix via the series Bad Vegan: Fame, Fraud, Fugitives, showing how the married pair swindled investors and staff out of $2 million before going on the run from the law.

Baldwin, 63, became friends with Melngailis during the height of her success. He even met his wife, Hilaria, at the popular New York restaurant in 2011. During the first episode of the Netflix series, Melngailis talked about Baldwin and how they had an immediate connection when they first met.

“I met Alec Baldwin at the restaurant,” Melngailis explained. “We talked a lot on the phone and via email. Sometimes when you meet somebody, and you feel like you already knew them, it kind of felt like that with him.”

Although Baldwin and Melngailis’s relationship was platonic, journalist Allen Salkin always felt that Baldwin had a romantic interest in the vegan chef.

“My understanding of her relationship with Alec Baldwin is that he was a regular customer at the restaurant and that, like a lot of the gentlemen who went there, he had a bit of a crush on Sarma,” Salkin said in the Netflix documentary. “When Alec was talking to her about wanting to have somebody important in his life, she would, instead of offering herself as that potential person, um, suggest that maybe he should adopt a dog.”

In the docu-series, the former top chef admitted that she “had a little bit of regret” that she never pursued a romantic relationship with Baldwin before he fell for Hilaria.

“I had never gone any further with Alec because I was in a relationship,” she explained. “And then it was like a few months later, we split up anyway, and then Alec ends up with somebody.”

She also felt weird that Baldwin was a lot older than her, but then he ended up marrying someone who could be his daughter.

“I had always kind of felt like, you know, he’s a lot older than I am,” she said. “But then he ends up with somebody who’s like way younger than me.”

Back in 2019, Baldwin shared an eye-watering Instagram post about when he first met his wife, Hilaria.

“‘Eight years ago, I wandered into Pure Food and Wine on Irving Place, on an unseasonably warm February evening. My friend, @bocartist, and I sat down (outside!), and as I turned to my left, I saw a woman who would change my life. Entirely. Eight years today. Thanks for all you’ve given me. You are a gift,” he captioned an image of himself kissing his wife.

It was through the Baldwins that Melngailis allegedly met her scammer ex-husband Anthony Strangis. If it wasn’t for Alec Baldwin, she might never have gotten caught up in the scheme that ended her career as a celebrity chef.