Serena Poon / Q & A

A Leading Chef to the Hollywood elite, Serena Poon’s passion and career for curating healing and wellness programs using integrative health, holistic nutrition and culinary alchemy began long before she started creating contemporary meals, menus and nutritional goodness for the likes of Jerry Bruckheimer and Sean “P. Diddy” Combs. 

Her driven devotion to focus on the importance of whole body and mind wellness is inspired by the profound effect cancer had on her family, with both her mother and father diagnosed within two years of each other.  Recognizing the impact food has on the mind, body and spirit, Serena welcomed a new path in her life and began her career as a Nutritionist and Chef with degrees from UC Berkeley and the esteemed Le Cordon Bleu.

Getting her foot in the door as a Chef for Hugh Hefner at the Playboy Mansion, Serena quickly built her list of private clientele and started introducing dietaryhealth and wellness planning into her classic fine dining services. Serena approaches every client with grace and gratitude along with a commitment to investing her best-self and endless knowledge to their well-being.

Serena’s philosophy for living an optimal healthy lifestyle can be achieved by integrating nutritional and physical therapy, focused mindfulness and balancing the body’s support system. With the launch of her health and wellness brand Just Add Water™ in 2018 and the ceaseless expansion of Serena Loves, Serena has brought her philosophy to life and continues to build on her mission to bring new methods of wellness and mindfulness to her clients and customers.

1) Tell our readers about your background and how you get started in the line of work you’re in? 

My journey began with my parents both having cancer while they were just in their 40s. My father lost his battle after a year and 3 months at 48, and my mom was diagnosed 2 months after that, at 45. It changed the direction of my life.  During my father’s battle, I began looking into holistic, herbal and natural remedies for everything from his cancer symptoms to alleviating the side effects of his treatments. I had studied Nutrition while attending college but this drove my passion even further.  I decided to go to Le Cordon Bleu. I wanted to study culinary arts to understand food and nutrition and creating ways to heal and comfort people through the power of food.

2) What do you think defines a “modern day girlfriend” (if you think about your friends who inspire you)? 

To me, a “modern day girlfriend” is someone who knows balance and can lead, create and nurture. There’s no fixated role. She’s someone who is either an entrepreneur or a trail-blazer of some sort at her company living her passion and truth. She’s someone who is fiercely supportive of other women and equally nurturing of her tribe, whether that tribe is her family unit, her husband/boyfriend, her kids, her parents, her fur babies, her best friends or any combination of each of them. When I think of the women in my life who inspire me the most, they are the ones who seem to do it all, because they found a way to balance and to be present in each role they play.

3) Our readers would love to know more about some of the celebrities you have worked with over the years and how you were able to specifically help them achieve better optimal health, balance with work through your guidance and programs, etc.   

I’ve worked with everyone from Hugh Hefner, to Diddy, to Jerry Bruckheimer to our favorite fixer on Scandal, and although I can’t get into the personal details of their programs, I can tell you that what I do for them is completely tailored for their various particular needs. With each client, the plans are curated according to their lifestyle, their goals and what I intuitively feel that they need through nutrition and energetic healing.

4) Do you only work with celebrities? What makes a perfect potential client candidate for you? 

No, I don’t only work with celebrity clients, as my passion is to help as many people as possible, whether it’s directly through one on one programs with me, or educating people on a larger scale and platform. My celebrity clients make up a strong portion of my business, particularly because I’ve only been a referral-based business. For me, an ideal targeted client is someone who is equally passionate about their commitment to their own health journey as I am about helping them. I love when a client understands the value of whole body and mind wellness and the choices that go into achieving that. I have had conversations with people who consider an organic, cold pressed juice to be expensive at $8-10….until I ask them how much they paid for the most recent glass of wine or cocktail they had when they were out. It’s all about perspective and priorities. I love working with people who understand that health is not a luxury, it’s a priority and the foundation for success on many levels.

5) Tell us more about JAW….what is it? what prompted you to start (Just Add Water) and what is your main goal with bringing this product to market? Where can readers buy it? 

Serena Poon / Q & A

Just Add Water™ is a vegan proprietary blend of yellow peas and sprouted grain protein, superfood fruit antioxidants, powerful super greens, prebiotics, probiotics, digestive enzymes and plant adaptogens. The recipe has been carefully crafted with organic and natural products to be free of major food allergens, including dairy, gluten, wheat, rice, tree nuts and soy, and contains no genetically modified ingredients.

The product is actually something that I’ve been making for years for my private clients, particularly for when they travelled, because I wanted to help them maintain their daily nutrient intake, their energy levels and their weight. Our adrenals and our microbiome are the core of our immunity, vitality and mental agility. All too often with clients, I witnessed the effects of frequent traveling, over-booked schedules and the lack of proper daily nutritional self-care that led to exhaustion, over-stressed adrenals, immune decline and unnecessary weight fluctuations.  I wanted to create a conveniently packaged superfood supplement that not only gave the body energy with the proper combination of protein, amino acids, vitamins, and minerals, but also the right prebiotic, probiotic and digestive enzymes to effectively absorb it all.  And it needed to taste great so that people would actually want to regularly consume it and drink it!

After so much success amongst my clients and my community, I really wanted to share all the benefits of Just Add Water with the rest of the world. We’ve started slow and steady, taking small deliberate steps, as has been the rhythm of my businesses, so you can find us online at www.justaddwaterinc.com and boutique storefronts throughout Los Angeles.  

6) In a very saturated market, you seem to be focusing work with clients more intentionally via what I understand to be called, “Culinary Alchemy.” Tell us more about what Culinary Alchemy is and why this approach is so unique and effective in helping people really experience the best long-term optimal health goals? 

There is a magic in all of us that not only individualizes us, but also ties us all together, universally, energetically. This magic is something that I have learned to understand, to harness and redirect into how we use food to heal and nourish our bodies. We have emotional connections with food, they can evoke far past memories and allow for us to create new ones. We have a physical relationship with food, in that it can nourish, heal and give us comfort and pleasure. As a chef and a nutritionist, I’m trained with the knowledge of the physical attributes of ingredients and how to combine them to create recipes that can help support or resolve a person’s dietary needs. As a healer as well, I am able to marry all of these aspects together to produce programs and plans that are nurturing, sustainable and that resonates with a client’s physical, mental and spiritual needs.   

7) Where can our readers reach out to you to inquire about potential services to see if they’re an aligned fit? 

My website is www.serenaloves.com and my social handle is @chefserenapoon. They can also email info@serenapoon.com

8) What’s your favorite thing to do with your girlfriends when you get together? 

Enjoy delicious healthy snacks and chats! I love nibbling while catching up with girlfriends, as we associate memories with our five senses. So that fun conversation about that new cute boy she’s dating or that big work project that was a huge success, can be linked to the smells and sights of the dinner we had. I love that.

9) What’s one food trend currently that drives you nuts to see as a Nutritionist and Wellness Expert? 

I think that the tidal wave of all things CBD in every aspect of the wellness marketplace is a bit disconcerting. There are many amazing benefits to CBD, but at the same time, there is not a standardized process that is regulated by any government agency or lab. So as with all things, I believe in balance. There are many people who use CBD for everything from itchy skin to insomnia to weight loss to pain. Some of those issues may be simple inconveniences easily treatable with CBD, but at the same time, some of those issues may be symptomatic of more serious health issues. When something doesn’t feel right, the body is trying to tell us to investigate and figure out what the underlaying problem is, so it can be resolved. Putting a temporary band-aid on some issues with CBD is not necessarily the best way to go, especially on a long-term basis.

10) What / who has been a catalyst of inspiration on both your business and personal journeys thus far? 

My family. The people I love. My clients. My community who connect with me in person and through social media. I am inspired by each of our journeys and I am also motivated by them. Every person has a story to tell and every person has a lesson they can share. I learned a lot while I was in culinary school, but I learned more when I was cooking side by side with other chefs. We learn so much from each other, in all different capacities.

IG, Twitter, YouTube: @chefserenapoon; iTunes: Serena Poon

IG, Twitter, FB: @justaddwaterinc