Executive Chef Shares His Expertise and Love of Cooking with Linden Ponds Residents

March 11, 2019

Executive Chef Robert Wittenhagen Bring Years of Experience to Linden Ponds

Hingham, MA – Mealtimes are one of the highlights of the day at Linden Ponds, an Erickson Living developed and managed retirement community in Hingham, MA. With four on-site restaurants, residents can choose from a variety of dining experiences, ranging from salads and deli wraps at the casual Harbor Café to a perfectly-cooked steak at the full-service Fireside Restaurant to made-to-order brick-oven pizzas at the Tavern. Instead of grocery shopping, cooking and cleaning the kitchen — like they did for so many years — Linden Ponds residents can simply stroll to one of the community's restaurants to enjoy a leisurely meal with friends, while they leave all the work to the professional dining services staff.

One of the key people responsible for preparing the thousands of meals that are served at Linden Ponds each day is Executive Chef Robert Wittenhagen. The Long Island, New York, native came to Linden Ponds a little more than two years ago. He has an associate degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University and a bachelor's degree in hospitality management from New York Institute of Technology. Prior to Linden Ponds, he worked at The Huntington Country Club, Papa Razzi Trattoria and Burtons Grill.

As executive chef, Wittenhagen is responsible for leading and training the community's culinary staff. He also develops and executes new menus. Wittenhagen describes his culinary style as "a little bit of everything" with an emphasis on local New England and Italian cuisine.. His favorite dishes to prepare at Linden Ponds are Chicken Piccata over angel hair pasta and Steak Diane. At home, he enjoys whipping up omelets of all varieties as well as Beef Bourguignon. 

Tomas "Omar" Gonzalez is Linden Ponds' dining services director. He oversees all four on-site restaurants and the department's 287 employees. He applauds Wittenhagen for his creativity as well as his commitment to serving favorite New England dishes such as Seafood Newburgh and stuffed shrimp using classical recipes that residents know and love. 

"Chef Robert is in charge of the two highest-volume restaurants on campus," Gonzalez says. "He is a highly skilled culinarian with years of experience and a passion for people and the residents."

Around the time Wittenhagen came to Linden Ponds, the community introduced Signature Dining, which calls for all menu offerings to be made to order at the moment of service. Signature Dining creates an exceptional dining experience for residents because it ensures that food is of the highest quality and served at the peak of freshness.

"What I like about the program is the variety and quality that we are able to offer the residents," Wittenhagen says. "The feedback from the residents about the Signature Dining program has been positive. The biggest thing that I have heard is that they love is the variety and that most of the items on the menus are made to order."

Resident Marilyn Stewart is a member of Linden Ponds Resident Advisory Council and serves as the liaison to the dining services department. She says her fellow residents have been pleased with the Signature Dining program.

"I think that people really like it," she says. "We have many, many choices."

Each night at Linden Ponds, there are 100 different entrees to choose from — making it nearly impossible for residents not to find a meal they love. Nevertheless, Stewart says the dining services department takes feedback from residents very seriously and makes changes based on their suggestions.

"Omar, who is head of dining, really and truly listens to what people have to say," Stewart says.

"We just finished focus groups for dining, where people could come and express their satisfaction or dissatisfaction. He wrote down what everybody had to say, and if he can, he will try to accommodate them."

For more information about career opportunities at Linden Ponds, please visit https://jobs.ericksonliving.com.  Visitors can register for email alerts about job postings by field of expertise and location.

Photo:  Executive Chef Robert Wittenhagen preparing lunch at Linden Ponds.  (Molly Lynch St. John)

 About Linden Ponds: Linden Ponds, one of 20 continuing care retirement communities developed and managed by Erickson Living®, is situated on a scenic 108-acre campus in Hingham, Massachusetts. The community is located in Plymouth County and is home to nearly 1,300 residents. Additional information about Linden Ponds can be found at LindenPonds.com.