The chef was in the Bahamas to open a branch of his wildly successful Naked Taco at Resorts World Bimini when the incident happened.
According to a source, Pagano was given the OK to turn on the gas burners at his restaurant last evening when the explosion occurred. The chef suffered third-degree burns and was airlifted to Jackson Memorial's Ryder Trauma Center.
The exact timeline and the extent of the chef's injuries are not yet known, and New Times has several calls out to Resorts World Bimini. We will update this story as information becomes available.
Facebook has been filled with well wishes for Pagano. Fellow chefs and fans alike have sent notes for his speedy recovery.
New Times spoke with Pagano at 2 a.m. today, and he was in good spirits, as he always is. And although he must be in pain, he cracked jokes to make this writer feel at ease. Which is why all of Miami is rooting for him to recover and get back in the kitchen.
Update: According to Ralph Pagano's wife Buffy, the incident happened around 3 p.m. yesterday. When the stove erupted, the chef pushed one of his cooks out of the way and took the brunt of the explosion. Pagano suffered third-degree burns to about 40 percent of his body. His limbs suffered the most injuries, including his hands and feet.
Buffy says that although there's a long recovery ahead, her husband's will and love of life will get them through this. She says she knew he would be all right when paramedics asked him where his hairline was and he responded, "You've got to be kidding." That sense of humor will get Pagano back in the kitchen where he belongs.