MIAMI - Chef Ralph Pagano, who is the host of Lifetime's culinary show, "All Mixed Up," was injured this week in an explosion at his new restaurant in Bimini.
Pagano's friend, Tony Albelo, told Local 10 News that Pagano was working on his new restaurant Thursday at Resorts World Bimini and was about to turn on the gas burners when an explosion occurred.
"He turned it on and it exploded. There was a couple other of his crew with him and he took the brunt of the punishment. It exploded on him," Albelo said. "There was a lot more damage than you would expect, like something like an oven blowing up."
Albelo said Pagano was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital's Ryder Trauma Center, where he is being treated for third-degree burns, including to his face, legs and hands.
Local 10 News reporter Shyann Malone spoke to Pagano Friday at the hospital.
"I feel terrible," he said. "I was just in a gas explosion. My hands were on fire, my shirt was on fire, my pants were on fire."
Pagano said he thought he was going to die at one point, but his survival instincts quickly kicked in.
"I thought I was going to die. Luckily, I stopped, dropped and rolled," he said.
Albelo is among Pagano's loved ones who are grateful that the famous chef survived the incident.
"I'm concerned," Albelo said. "He's a good friend and a great all-around guy to the restaurant scene in Miami, and South Florida and to the food world."
Pagano said the road to recovery will take a while, but he is grateful to be alive.
"I'm going to need skin grafts and about a month in the hospital, but I'm alive," he said.
Pagano owns Naked Taco in Miami Beach, Naked Lunch in Miami and Naked Crab in Fort Lauderdale. He has also made TV appearances on shows like "Hell's Kitchen" and "Iron Chef."
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