|Born||1934 (age 85–86)|
|Education||B.A. and M.B.A.|
|Alma mater||Hope College|
|Known for||Co-founder of Chef America Inc.|
|Net worth||$5.0 billion (2011)|
|Family||David Merage (brother)|
Paul Merage (born 1934) is an American businessman who co-founded Chef America Inc.
that popularized the concept of microwavable frozen meals.
Merage was born in Iran in 1934 to a Jewish family, the son of Katherine and Andre Merage. He has four siblings: Louise, Camron, Carrol, David, and Lin? His father ran an import/export business in France before he was forced to flee back to Persia prior to World War II. He attended Alborz High School in Tehran. In 1950, at the age of 16, he immigrated to the United States to attend Hope College in Holland, Michigan. He later transferred to UC Berkeley where he earned a B.A.
and a M.B.A. After college, he worked in succession as a marketer for nine years at General Foods, Hunt Wesson and Specialty Foods. In 1977, he and his younger brother, David Merage, founded their own company called Chef America Inc., mortgaging their homes and borrowing money from their parents. Chef America started by selling frozen Belgian waffles - then unfamiliar in the United States - to restaurants as they were difficult to cook. In 1977, the company had $12 million in sales and was the largest company in the world mass-producing frozen Belgian waffles. In 1983, noticing that more women were entering the workforce, he personally developed Hot Pockets, a frozen food that was microwaveable and easy to eat. The product was a resounding success and they expanded the brand to Lean Pockets and Croissant Pockets. In October 2002, he sold Chef America to Nestle SA for $2.6 billion; at the time, the company had sales of $750 million and 1,800 employees. After the sale, he founded MIG Capital LLC (formerly Falcon Investment Group LLC) which managed over $1 billion in assets.
In 2011, his net worth was estimated at $1-2 billion.
In 2005, Merage donated $30 million to the School of Business at UC Irvine, which was renamed the Paul Merage School of Business in his honor. Merage also donated $3 million to the Merage Jewish Community Center of Orange County, California. He is a board member and a leading donor for the Pacific Symphony and sits on the board of the Orange County Performing Arts Center. The Merage Foundation for U.S.-Israel Trade brings Israeli M.B.A.
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students and executives to attend seminars in the United States to learn how to market and sell to Americans.
Merage is a member of the University Synagogue in Irvine, California.