Michael Vakneen

Fabulous People: Michael Vakneen

Michael Vakneen is chef and pizzaiolo of Pop Up Pizza, located on the casino floor of Plaza Hotel & Casino. Pop Up Pizza is the first gourmet pizzeria in downtown Las Vegas, with the soul of a New York pizzeria with a modern approach. Learn about Michael Vakneen…

Follow at: @popuppizzalv

Hometown: Los Angeles, CA

First job: Bagel maker

Favorite ways to spend your free time in NV: Outside! Red Rock, Lake Mead, Mt Charleston, Lake Las

Your biggest accomplishment and why: Opening up a pizza consulting business aimed at helping
individuals fulfill their passion for pizza.

The biggest obstacle you overcame: Starting my own food line. From food science to shelf-stable studies
to making a product that sticks and customers like was harder than any restaurant I have ever opened. I
can happily say the Hamsa Brand has expanded to grocers in California with many more to come.

Someone who inspires you and why: John Arena. John is an industry vet in the pizza industry. With all
his experience, he usually has all the answers. A seasoned restaurateur and all-around good person, I
affectionately refer to him as my north star.

Advice to someone pursuing a career path in what you do: Be obsessed to a point that you can’t live
without it. That is the only way you will be very good and consistent daily. The passion will survive the
toughest of times so long as the obsession is alive and well.

Favorite quote: “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard.”

Something someone would be surprised to learn about you: I love to paint.

What makes someone fabulous: Energy and aura. I am sensitive to those two things.

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