Most chefs start as a line cook, but don’t often advance so quickly to Supervisor, Sous Chef then Executive Chef of an establishment like downtown’s Renaissance Hotel and its restaurant Sip, quite like Michael Poompan did. But after learning a little about him, it makes much sense.
Originally from Whittier, Michael heard about celebrity chef Suzanne Tracht opening up her own restaurant inside Ocean Ave’s Renaissance Hotel and applied and was accepted. Tracht’s is now called Sip, Michael is now the Executive Chef, and he keeps business going by catering to the likes of Long Beach locals.
“One of the reasons I like Long Beach so much is because of the community and the people here. He said. “I love that it’s a small town feel and everyone kinda knows each other.”
And because of the local’s friendliness, he learned that Long Beach diners appreciate locally grown products and healthy dishes, thus his delicious Black Bean & Brown Rice vegetarian burger creation made to adhere to the request of his guests.
Never having spent time in Long Beach before working at Tracht’s, Michael now certainly fits in with the giving nature of many Long Beach businesses. Along with Primal Alchemy’s chef Paul Buchanan, Michael started doing cooking demonstrations directed at children at local Farmer’s Markets. He then got involved with nationwide non-profit organization Share our Strength and hosted cooking classes for children ages 7-14 at St. Luke’s church.
And through those efforts of teaching children about nutrition and how to create healthy meals, Michael was invited to the White House on behalf of Michelle Obama’s initiative Chef’s Move to Schools and sponsoring program Let’s Move.
He met the First Lady and the White House’s Head Chef Sam Kass and went through some cooking workshops. The challenge was for each guest to come back to their community and find a school to partner with for the school year and create a program about nutrition with that school.
Michael came back and partnered Holmes Elementary School and did weekly cooking demonstrations with the students. He cooked meals like a white chicken chili and apple raisin salad and incorporated local products into meals that children were capable of cooking.
“It’s funny because people always think the kids won’t eat it, but they just love everything we make,” he said.
He is currently looking for another school in downtown to continue the program with.
Michael is also doing wonderful things with Sip and the catering division for the Renaissance Hotel. He picks up produce from Farmer’s Market and incorporates seasonal items in his seasonally changing menu. For example, you can find fresh baby broccoli, turnips or beets in his dishes, as well as local seafood like halibut or locally raised beef.
Some dishes that really stick out on Sip’s current menu that might melt your mouth are the Marinated Eggplant and Olives with bellweather ricotta cheese, the Garlic Jack Wings with garlic butter, dry jack cheese and Aleppo pepper, Animal Fries with braised pork, garlic, jalapeno jack cheese and aioli, or the Brandt Beef Flat Iron Steak with Herb Butter.
Michael listed some of the menu’s most popular items like the B.L.T. with La Brea county white bread, avocado, hickory smoked bacon, tomato, bibb lettuce, mayo, and garlic fries. You can also add to that a Mike & Sons Ranch fried egg or roasted Jidori chicken. He also said the grilled cheese and roasted tomato soup is an easy go for lunch, as well as the Carolina Pork Ribs and it’s mustard and vinegar barbeque sauce.
With all this local fanciness going on, make sure you visit Sip sometime soon and indulge in Chef Michael Poompan’s delicious and healthy creations. After all, parking is free at the hotel for two hours with a restaurant validation. What’s you excuse now??