By Lisa Petrillo

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MIAMI BEACH (CBSMiami) — Celebrity Chef Ralph Pagano is not taking anything for granted these days. Not his popular Mexican restaurant  of five years on Miami Beach,, Naked Taco at The Dream Hotel, or his life, literally.

In June 2017, Pagano almost lost his life in a gas explosion in the kitchen of a restaurant he was planning to open in the Bahamas.

Pagano sustained second- and third-degree burns over 40 percent of his body.

“100% I thought I was going to die, without question,” he told CBS4’s Lisa Petrillo. “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.  However, thankfully due to some quick thinking and seamless luck, we made it from the island to Jackson Memorial Hospital in an 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 happily.

After a two-month hospital stay and daily rehab, Ralph is feeling stronger than ever and is back in the kitchen doing what he loves, cooking!

This week, he is busy prepping his Barbecue Shrimp Taco, his entry into this weekend’s Grid Iron Grill Iron for the Food Wine and Music Festival at the Pompano Beach Amphitheater created by former Miami Dolphin John Offerdahl.

It is a grilling competition where Miami Dolphin legends team up with some of the best chefs in South Florida who are vying for a championship title. Pagano and former Dolphin Mark Higgs won the title three years ago.

BBQ Shrimp & Bacon Taco from chef Ralph Pagano of Naked Taco on Miami Beach. (CBS4)

This year, Ralph’s entry in the Grid Iron Grill Off competition is Naked Taco’s Barbecue Shrimp and Bacon Taco and it is today’s Digital Bite.


  • 4 corn tortillas
  • 8 jumbo shrimp split in half
  • 1 tablespoon of Cajun spice
  • 1 tablespoon of EVO
  • 2 tablespoons of soft butter
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, diced
  • 4 teaspoon of Cojita Cheese
  • 3 ozs. lime juice
  • 2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup of diced cooked pineapple
  • 1 bunch green onion
  • 8 oz of Pineapple Chipotle BBQ (special secret recipe available at NAKED TACO
  • You can substitute your favorite BBQ sauce with the addition of 1 part Pineapple juice to 3 parts BBQ sauce


  • In a bowl, mix the olive oil, the cajun spice and shrimp and toss to coat with the spice
  • In a pan, cook the shrimp slowly in butter
  • Deglaze with the BBQ sauce and toss in the cilantro and chopped bacon
  • Warm the taco shells and then fill with the BBQ shrimp and bacon love
  • Top with the cooked pineapple
  • Garnish with the chopped green onion and cojita cheese
  • Enjoy!


Lisa Petrillo


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