Growing up in Puerto Rico, Chef Orlando Pagán always felt a strong pull toward the kitchen. His fondest childhood memories include watching “Great Chefs of the World” with his uncle and keeping his mother company while she prepared meals for the family. At a young age, Pagán had already begun trying his hand in the kitchen, proudly attempting to make what he considered “fancy food” at the time: spam and eggs.
As a teenager, Pagán’s first job was as a busboy, although he longed to be in the kitchen with the chefs, admiring their precise skills and ability to impress guests with their dishes. Setting his sights on a career as a chef, Pagán left Puerto Rico after high school to attend Johnson & Wales University in Miami.
Following graduation, Pagán remained in Florida, where he spent three years at the Ritz-Carlton Coconut Grove’s Bizcaya Grill Restaurant. Heading westward to San Francisco, he cooked in a handful of acclaimed restaurants before leading the kitchen of Michelin-starred The Village Pub as executive chef.
After a second cross-country move, Pagán settled in the Lowcountry to join Chef Sean Brock as chef de cuisine of McCrady’s Tavern in March 2017. He was then promoted to Executive Chef in summer of 2018. In February of 2019, Pagán helped to open a new concept in the heart of downtown Charleston called Wild Common, where he leads the culinary program as executive chef. When he’s not in the kitchen, Pagán may be found playing golf, fishing off the Charleston coast, or spending time with his wife and two young children.
Awards & Press
- James Beard Award
An Interview with Chef Pagán, 2022 James Beard Best Chef Nominee | Charleston Gateway | February 27, 2022