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MIAMI (CBSMiami) – There’s never a dull moment with celebrity chef, Ralph Pagano.
Personality and humor is not something he’s lacking.
“The Party is happening here at Naked Taco. 1111 Collins Avenue. We got a dance party, call Danny Terrio!!” Yelled out Pagano, while cooking.
Here at Naked Taco his popular Mexican eatery in the heart of South Beach at The Dream Hotel, Ralph is busy prepping.
He’s making his Barbecue Shrimp Taco, which is his entry into this weekend’s Grid Iron Grill Off at the Food Wine and Music Festival at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater, created by former Miami Dolphins player John Offerdahl.
It’s a grilling competition where Miami Dolphins legends team up with the best of the best of South Florida chefs vying for the title.
Pagano and former Dolphins running back Mark Higgs won the title 3 years ago.
“We have great time with the chefs and the players. So me and “Higgy” come up with barbeque shrimp dish. It’s a great day,” Pagano said.
Pagano is not taking anything for granted these days. In June of last year, he almost lost his life in a gas explosion in the kitchen at restaurant he was planning to open in the Bahamas.
Pagano sustained second and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body.
CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo asked him when it happened what he was thinking.
“100% I thought I was goning to die, without question. I stood top and looked at my arms and skin was hanging off my arms, skin was hanging off my legs and face and thought this is a bad day. But, thankfully due to some quick thinking and seamless luck, we made it from the island to Jackson Memorial Hospital in an 1 hour and half time. Those guys brought all the kings horses and all the kings’ men and Humpty Dumpty is back together again,” he said.
That’s after about 2 months in the hospital and 5 days of physical therapy. He wears compression sleeves on his legs and arms and hands, all are badly scarred but…
“The best that ever happened to me was this explosion, because at the end of it, I get to say what was I doing right in my life and what was I doing wrong. It was how I was managing time with my family, prioritizing my time. I’m happier than I’ve ever been,” said Ralph.
So as Petrillo and Pagano dine on Naked Taco’s favorites like the delicious Octopus Tostados, and this year’s entry into the Grid Iron Grill off, the Barbeque Shrimp Tacos, everything in life tastes a little better.
“It’s got my vote. It’s the winner,” said Petrillo, after tasting.
“Awesome,” said Pagano.
Naked Taco is open 7 days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
The Grid Iron Grill Off is on November 9-11 at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater.
For more info on the event: http://gridirongrilloff.com
For more info on Naked Taco: nakedtacomiami.com