That time I had dinner cooked by Andre Agassi’s brother-in-law

About a year ago, the Treiger clan sat down to a homecooked meal of Tibetan cuisine, courtesy of the Northwest Yeshiva High School auction, by way of Melissa Rivkin. Dinner was prepared by Lobsang Dargey, a former Tibetan monk. We heard a little of his amazing story at dinner, but this week, The Seattle Times shared a lot more of it. And it turns out Lobsang is probably the coolest person I know. It’s worth reading the whole article, but if you just want a synopsis, here are a few excerpts:

In a hometown without electricity, running water or modern medicine, Lobsang Dargey came into the world in the traditional way: on the first floor of his home, where the goats, sheep, pigs and cows lived. “I was born next to a pig,” he says.

At 18, Dargey left the monastery with several other monks on an epic 14-month journey, first to the holy city of Lhasa and then to India. The travelers walked most of the way, sleeping on the ground and begging for food.

In 1997, when Dargey came to the United States on borrowed money, his vision of his future was hazy. He thought about starting “a dharma center,” or Buddhist community, but decided he didn’t have enough English fluency or spiritual training and knew he would have to earn a living. “When I got off the airplane I made a commitment to myself. Within five years I wanted to have a house and I wanted to have a green card. That was my goal,” he said.

Fifteen years later, Dargey lives in a suburban home in Bellevue with his wife and daughter. He is a U.S. citizen and no longer a monk. As one of Everett’s most influential developers, he is soliciting foreign investors and working on his first King County project.

At dinner, we also heard a little about Lobsang’s courtship of his wife, but he somehow managed to leave out the most important part of the story (which you may have managed to gather from the title of this post):

Life took a turn when Dargey attended a fundraiser for the Marsha Rivkin Center for Ovarian Cancer Research, founded by Melissa Rivkin’s father, Saul, in honor of her late mother. He met the center’s director, Tami Agassi, and was smitten. Dargey called her office, hoping to set up a date. She declined. He was persistent. “He called me every three months,” she recalled “It was a running joke in the office: ‘The monk is calling you again.’ I’m not a tree-hugger. I’m a girl from Vegas, so it was kind of a little out of my box.” After a year, Dargey wore Agassi down and she agreed to have lunch with him. Six months later they were engaged. If he had known at the outset she was the sister of tennis great Andre Agassi, “I probably wouldn’t have asked her out” because of his misgivings about celebrity families. The couple were married in 2004.

To think: when I wrote about this at the time, I really just wanted an excuse to share a recipe for Tibetan bread.

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