Chef Ralph Pagano, badly burned in a kitchen explosion in the Bahamas in June, was released Thursday from a Miami hospital but still faces a painful road to recovery at his Boca Raton home, The Miami Herald reports.
Pagano spent 50 days at the University of Miami/Jackson Memorial Burn Center after suffering second- and third-degree burns over about 40 percent of his body in the blast at a new restaurant at Resorts World Bimini on June 22. He was turning on the kitchen's gas burners when the oven blew up.
At a press conference before his release from the hospital, Pagano appeared in good spirits, joking and showing his scars to reporters, The Herald reported. His doctors said his good humor and willingness to endure intense pain helped his healing and rehabilitation.
He joked about the hospital food, saying he actually had his Naked Lunch and Naked Taco restaurants in Miami make deliveries instead. As for his recovery, he said: "You can thank the painkillers. It’s Florida. They’re easy to get."
Dr. Louis Pizano, a trauma surgeon and medical director at the burn center, said Pagano's road to recovery will not be easy. "His wounds were very, very deep," Pizano said.
Pagano said he doesn't know when, or if, he will be able to return to the kitchen. He most recently opened the Naked Crab at the B Ocean Resort on Fort Lauderdale Beach. Before opening his restaurants, Pagano starred in a cable TV reality cooking show, All Mixed Up, on Lifetime. He also appeared on Hell's Kitchen and Iron Chef.
While Pagano is resting easier in Boca with his wife and twin toddler sons, he still must visit the burn unit in Miami several times a week for wound checks and physical therapy.