Chef Mario Pagán studied at Johnson and Wales University of Culinary Arts in Bay Harbor, Florida and trained with several renowned chefs such as Alfredo Ayala, founding chef of Chayote restaurant in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
In 1998, Pagán bought Chayote and continues to run it successfully. Every year since, he has been awarded the Tenedores de Plata y Bronce (Silver and Bronze Forks), a local prize bestowed by the island’s gastronomy media. He has also been featured in several publications such as Travel & Leisure, Food and Wine, Gourmet, Bon Appetit, Esquire, The Boston Globe, The New York Times, The Daily News, Wine and Food Society and The Miami Herald.
In August 2005, Pagán opened his second restaurant, Lemongrass, at the Caribe Hilton Hotel in San Juan. Well-known for its Pan Asian-Latino fusion menu, Lemongrass has been named one of the best restaurants of the world by popular food and travel publications such as Food & Wine, Condé Nast Traveler, Gourmet, and Travel and Leisure.
Pagán’s third restaurant, Laurel Kitchen Art Bar, opened to great fanfare at the Puerto Rico Art Museum in November 2010. Here is where he showcases his “Nuevo Caribe Cuisine” concept, which is inspired by the abundance of fresh ingredients available in Puerto Rico
The chef’s latest restaurant, Sage Steak Loft, opened recently at the Olive Boutique Hotel in San Juan. For his latest culinary creation, Pagán designed a menu centered on the aroma of Mediterranean spices. Like his previous restaurants, Sage has been well reviewed by the culinary press and welcomed by gastronomy fans.
As part of his efforts to introduce world diners to Puerto Rican and Caribbean cuisine, Pagán has written two books, Cocinas del Mundo CARIBE (Biblioteca Metropoli, 2005) and La Gran Cocina Caribeña y sus 12 Grandes Chefs (Editorial de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, 2004).
Pagán has participated in popular culinary shows such as The Next Iron Chef (Food Network), and Sabores de Ensueño (Utilísima) and has represented Puerto Rico in several international culinary events along with the Puerto Rico Tourism Company and Rums of Puerto Rico. In May 2014, Pagan had the honor of presenting a dinner at the James Beard House in New York, becoming the ninth Puerto Rican chef to cook at this prestigious venue.