Rising Star Chef Tracy Chang of PAGU - Biography

Cambridge, MA

June 2020

From birth, Tracy Chang had a legacy layed out for her. In the 1980’s Chang’s grandmother, Chin Fun Shiue, migrated from Taiwan to Boston, where she opened several restaurants, including stalwart sushi spot Tokyo Restaurant. With cooking in her blood, Chang applied to be a host at mod omakase den O Ya—the first restaurant behind James Beard Award-winning restaurateurs Tim and Nancy Cushman—while studying finance at Boston College. Instead of working the host stand, Chang became a stagiaire and after one month, moved on to prep to line to pastry cook.

After graduating in 2009, Chang moved to Paris to study patisserie at Le Cordon Bleu and stage with MOF Pâtissier Nicolas BernardĂ©. In 2011, she received a scholarship to cook at three-Michelin-star Restaurante Martin Berasategui in San Sebastian, Spain. Chang became the “mano derecha” to Berasategui, travelling the world, managing public relations for the chef. 

In 2012, she returned to Boston to care for her father (and her pug, Phoebe). Chang became a teaching fellow within Harvard University’s Science and Cooking program and in her spare time, collaborated with her former O Ya coworkers to create ramen pop-up Guchi’s Midnight Ramen. She went on to open her own brick and mortar in Cambridge in 2015. Pagu, a name derived from the Japanese translation of “pug,” is her translation of a soulful Japanese-Spanish restaurant, cafe, and bakery. 

In 2020, Chang was a semifinalist for James Beard’s “Best Chef: Northeast.” In the wake of the pandemic, she co-founded two nonprofits: Off Their Plate, which serves frontline healthcare workers in nine cities nationwide and provides economic relief to restaurant workers; and Project Restore Us, providing the families of essential workers in low income, high COVID areas with groceries packed by restaurants.