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 at a country club, 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. While in school, he extended his education beyond the walls of the classroom, cooking private dinners in the area to gain real-world industry experience.
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 including Restaurant Gary Danko, Silks, Ame, State Bird Provisions, and Aziza. He went on to lead the kitchen of Michelin-starred The Village Pub as executive chef, where he developed a refined menu driven by his relationships with local farmers and purveyors.
After a second cross-country move, Pagán settled in the Lowcountry as chef de cuisine of McCrady’s Tavern in March 2017. In the 200-year-old building that houses McCrady’s Tavern, Pagán works with Chef Sean Brock to craft reimagined American classics that mirror the storied history of the Charleston space.
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.