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By Janean Sorrell, Oct. 5, 2021

Being a foodie his whole life, Weston Chang’s (’19, business management) dream of opening his own modern Italian restaurant came true with Pan Pasta’s 2020 opening at Haven City Market in Rancho Cucamonga, California.

A cruise to Alaska in 2015 changed Chang’s life forever when Chang, his family and some friends were celebrating his high school graduation and something caught his eye on the ship, an open kitchen.

“There was a pasta buffet with one chef running it. You could see all the ingredients in front, and you were able to create your own dish,” said Chang. “The chef cooked it, and in a matter of minutes your dish became alive.”

He returned home to Arcadia, California, but he never forgot the pasta buffet with an open kitchen concept. Open kitchens are designed without walls, allowing visitors to have a closeup view on how their food is prepared.

Chang started to notice new places with the open kitchen concept opening like Blaze Pizza and Chipotle, but he noticed there were no open kitchens specializing in pasta. According to Chang, it was all he could think about and, eventually, it made him change his major from environmental engineering to business management.

During his third year at CPP, Chang felt it was time to chase his dream. He worked nonstop and in 2020 he opened Pan Pasta.

Patrons can expect to see plates such as pappardelle, a wide ribbon shaped pasta with a white wine mushroom ragù, creamy chicken penne pesto, bright salads and mouth-watering charcuterie boards. The open kitchen concept enables patrons to watch their food being prepared right in front of their eyes. From the flames of the grill to adding the final piece of garnish, everything created is on display as a sort of show for the customer.

A custom ordered Charcuterie board from Pan Pasta. (Courtesy of Weston Chang)

“Growing up I was a big foodie. My friends and I had a great appreciation for food in general.  We would go anywhere to get food. We’d take day trips to San Diego, downtown LA, sometimes overnight trips to Vegas just to eat food. It was something to do, go out and find new restaurants, try new things,” said Chang.

According to Chang, in order to start his restaurant, he had to learn things on the fly while simultaneously finishing up his degree at CPP. He had to learn about lease agreements, food regulations, the ins and outs of structural systems and the mechanical engineering that goes into designing a restaurant.

“It’s one of those things where I would do it differently,” said Chang. “I learned a lot, and I would definitely do it all over again, but I would change a couple of things like location and concept wise.”

Fusilli with freshly braised fennel and Italian sausage. (Courtesy of Weston Chang)

Chang has plans to open more locations and eventually open a fine dining Italian restaurant in downtown LA. He shared he finds great beauty in L.A., and it possesses a captivating demographic he will use to expand his dream of creating a high-end dining experience.

Chang shared that the most rewarding part of working in the food industry is getting feedback from customers. He said he can tell by the look on a customer’s face if they are happy and if they have done a good job.

Chang is thankful to work in such a gratifying hands-on field and will continue to use his knowledge gained at Pan Pasta to expand his horizons.

“The day we had our soft-grand opening, family and friends came to visit. Very surreal moment for me. It was one and a half years in the making. I was still in college; I did not have time to spend with my friends, then to showcase the restaurant and provide food for everyone who came, it was a special moment for me,” said Chang.

Pan Pasta is open from Tuesdays through Thursdays from 2-8:30 p.m., and Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m.-8:30 p.m. They are currently open for dine in, take-out and delivery. More information can be found at their Instagram page.

Featured image courtesy of Weston Chang. 


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