Q&A: Tracy Chang of PAGU

Photo Credit: Brian Samuels

The chef at the helm of Spanish-Japanese fusion spot Pagu was inspired early on by her grandmother’s Japanese and Chinese restaurants in Cambridge and Boston. She went on to pursue medical studies, followed by finance, but her love for cooking and hosting dinner gatherings eventually beckoned her back into the hospitality world. After a stint at Boston sushi spot O Ya, she moved to Paris to study at Le Cordon Bleu and then to Spain, where she worked in a three-star Michelin restaurant. She moved back to Boston and co-founded the popup Guchi’s Midnight Ramen, which quickly gained a cult following, before opening Pagu in early 2017.

Boston’s best dish:

If I’m not at Pagu, I’m either in bed or at Cafe Sushi. I’ll either order the omakase or the seasonal nigiri. One of my favorites is the Hokkaido uni with a crispy nori chip and West Virginia salt.

Desert island spice:

Black peppercorn. It’s a very dynamic spice that grows in several parts of the world (India, Malaysia, Brazil, Ecuador). I’m partial to Sarawak black peppercorn from Malaysia; my Aunt Jin brings me some each time she returns from a visit.

Kitchen playlist:

Bachata! Seems to be a team favorite, and mine too. We have a lot of folks hailing from Puerto Rico, Colombia, El Salvador. No Dominicans, but we love bachata!

Favorite food destination:

San Sebastian, Spain, and all of its pintxos bars.

Cooking inspiration:

I grew up cooking with my parents and grandma on Sundays. They worked a lot, but Sundays were always spent cooking together, or going to my grandmother’s restaurant, Tokyo. These days, we are all working a lot, but still try to make time to cook together on Sundays. My parents make comfort food, and my Aunt Jin and I test new recipes together, before for Pagu, and now, still for Pagu.

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