Locally and internationally recognized as one of Puerto Rico’s top chefs, Mario Pagan owns two of San Juan’s finest restaurants and is executive chef at Dorado Beach in Dorado.Mario opened his namesake restaurant, Mario Pagan, in Condado last year, and Sage steak loft at Olive Boutique Hotel, also in Condado, in 2015. He is also creating a new menu for Melao, in Dorado, which will open this summer.

Mario’s passion for cooking began, of course, in the kitchen as a young child, watching his mother and grandmothers prepare Caribbean-influenced meals. In 1994, while in Miami in architecture school, he switched course to pursue a degree in culinary arts at Johnson & Wales University. He honed his skills in the kitchens of award-winning chefs Carmen González, Pascal Oudin, Norman Van Aken and finally – and most notably — chef Alfredo Ayala, the man known as the father of gastronomy in Puerto Rico. Mario has dedicated his career to advancing Puerto Rican and Caribbean-influenced cuisine. To that end, at the behest of the U.S. Department of State, Mario represented the island at the Milan Expo 2015. In New York, he cooked as a guest chef at the James Beard House and represented the island at Taste of Tennis for five years in a row. The Food and Wine Aspen Classic invited him to cook in 2007 and 2008. Mario also hosted two cooking shows on Fox Latino network, Sabores de Ensueño and Boricuas, and appeared on the third season of Food Netwrok’s The Next Iron Chef in 2009. He also appeared on two episodes of Cocineros al Limite on Fox Telecolombia.

Mario co-authored two cookbooks, Cocinas del Mundo El Caribe and La Gran Cocina Caribeña, published in 2005 and 2004 respectively. He and his restaurants have been featured in top publications, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Boston Globe and Chicago Tribune. Mario previously owned Chayote, which he purchased from his mentor Ayala, as well as Sage in Condado and Laurel, which was located in Santurce’s Puerto Rico Museum of Art. Food & Wine featured it in its article, “One of the Best Restaurants in Museums in the U.S.”