Dearborn, Mich. — Residents and staff of Oakwood Common recently welcomed new Executive Chef James “Jamie” Minton, II and Baker Angel Hagen to this Dearborn senior living community.
Recruited for their culinary expertise, Chef Minton and Baker Hagen are both natives of the Detroit metro area with interesting travels on the high seas.
Minton, a Navy veteran of the Persian Gulf War, cooked on the nuclear-powered submarine USS Richard B. Russell. He credits the Navy, along with his teenage years working at Detroit’s Cadieux Café and Salvatore Scallopini, for opening many of the doors to his career as a chef.
“Cooking on a sub for a year and being under water for as long as 97 days gives you a unique perspective,” said Minton. “I really bonded with my first boss in the Navy who was Italian and appreciated my early restaurant experience. He taught me a lot.”
Following four years of service in the Navy, Minton returned to Michigan and found that his high security clearance was an added bonus. Over the years, he has served as a corporate executive chef for General Motors, Ford, and Pfizer.
At Oakwood Common, Minton’s approach is to revert to his restaurant years, treating residents to a top notch dining experience with excellent food quality, plate presentations and garnishes. He is also creating new menus for all of the community’s food services.
“We do a lot of theme dinners of Polish, Italian and other ethnic foods that residents enjoy,” said Minton. “Because many of them are well traveled, they know what a real schnitzel is—pounded, breaded and thin. At the same time, a pot roast has to be tender and made with love.”
Minton added that residents also enjoy an occasional breakfast for dinner. Pancakes and individual table-side omelets are made ready to order.
Every two weeks, residents are treated to live cooking demonstrations. A recent favorite was the preparation of a delicious Steak Diane served with a peppercorn demi-glace, flamed with cognac.
During good weather months, Minton is also in charge of the community’s weekly outdoor barbecues held every Tuesday during the noon hour for residents, guests and staff. An avid barbecuer, who regularly competes in the Annual American Royal World Series of Barbecue in Kansas City, he looks forward to adding barbecue ribs to the weekly fare of hamburgers and hot dogs.
Unlike Minton’s experience on the high seas, Oakwood Common’s newly arrived baker, Angel Hagen, worked on cruise ships for two years in the Hawaiian Islands
A resident of Wyandotte, Hagen was attracted to the arts and worked in art sales for a large cruise line.
“I learned how to do a lot of different things on the cruise ship and was amazed at all the artistic creations the chefs prepared,” said Hagen, who returned to Michigan to attend Henry Ford College and earn an Associate Degree in culinary arts and hotel management.
In her new job, Hagen enjoys spending time talking with residents in Oakwood Common’s Bistro to learn about their food preferences.
In addition to fresh baked breads, Hagen is responsible for preparing two or three special desserts in high volume daily.
“I’ve found that residents welcome the old-fashioned pies, and homemade cheese cake is among their favorites,” said Hagen. “I love the creativity of my job.” She also prepares mini parfaits, bread puddings, and beautifully decorated tortes.
With Minton’s and Hagen’s culinary expertise and high seas’ experience, residents are enjoying the best of all possible fine dining worlds.
About Oakwood Common
Oakwood Common offers one and two bedroom senior living apartments located at 16351 Rotunda Drive, within a beautiful 29-acre community that includes exquisite landscaping, nature trails and scenic views along the historic Rouge River Gateway in Dearborn. Oakwood Common apartments, available with flexible payment options, offer exceptional amenities for independent living and can be readily customized. Assisted living and a comprehensive rehabilitation and skilled nursing center are also available for those with additional needs. For more information and to arrange tours visit www.OakwoodCommon.org.