A street vendor in Singapore is being recognized as one of the best chefs in the world.

For over 100 years, the Michelin Guide series has represented the gold standard for fine dining all over the world.

If you've never been to a Michelin-starred restaurant, your imagination has probably conjured up something like this:

If you knock those napkins over you feel like you're about to be arrested. Photo via iStock.


You might be seeing tablecloths, candles, and menus with words like "reduction,"  "consommé," and "foam." Your dishes are tiny yet mysteriously filling "deconstructions" served "over" this with a "drizzle" of that. You walk away feeling less like you had a meal, and more like you just had your tastebuds wistfully guided through a symphony of flavor, texture, and harmony the likes of which you may never be able to experience again. Mostly because you can't afford it.

In recent years, however, the Michelin-star experience has been changing.

Many have criticized the Michelin company and its rating system, saying it's too biased or its methods too secretive, or that it's just generally not an accurate measure of the planet's "best" restaurants, as it claims to be.

British chef Gordon Ramsay isn't just a loudmouthed reality show host. He has 16 Michelin stars. Photo by Gerry Penny/AFP/Getty Images.

Yet the Michelin star remains a coveted symbol of excellence for chefs all over the world. They work toward it, fight over it, and clammer for it like nothing else. It's their Nobel Prize.

In response to some of that criticism, Michelin has been expanding its reach to include food from more and more corners of the globe.

One of the most recent inclusions is Singapore, the Southeast Asian nation most known (culinarily speaking) for its street food.

A street vendor in Singapore. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images.

The streets and markets of Singapore are filled to the brim with so-called "hawker stalls" — tiny, intoxicating food stands serving up spicy, savory, sticky, fried, baked, and steamed flavorful bits of magic. The stalls are a national treasure in Singapore, and they're slinging out some of the best food that money can buy.

Singapore just became home to the first Michelin-starred street vendor in the world.

In a tiny park neighborhood called Outram, sits a hawker stall called "Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle."

Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images.

It's run by Chan Hong Meng, a Malaysian born, Hong Kong trained chef whose chicken, pork belly, rice, and noodles have been known to create three-hour lines around the block in Singapore for years.

Meng recieved a phone call from Michelin in July 2016, inviting him to a gala. He was surprised, to say the least.

"Are you joking?" Meng recalls in a video for Michelin. "Why would Michelin want to come to my stall?"

Chan Hong Meng at work in his stall. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images.

They weren't joking, and they awarded him one of the highest honors in all of food.

Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images.

The Michelin guide's expansion into Singapore represents a significant shift in what is widely considered the "best."

For decades, Michelin-starred food was synonymous with "expensive." Now you can get a Michelin-starred dish for under $2. That isn't just affordable ... it's symbolic.

Chef Meng winning his Michelin star. Photo by Roslan Rahman/AFP/Getty Images.

The standard-bearers for what counts as "fine cuisine" have begun to recognize that the best food in the world is not limited to Western countries, or to posh restaurants with tablecloths and napkin towers.

You can find culinary and cultural magic in the hidden corners of the world. You can find it in the smoke-filled markets where chefs are serving simple cuisine on paper plates to massive hungry crowds.

You can find it wherever you look. You just have to be looking for it.

Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

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"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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A few years a go, American singer-songwriter Yebba Smith shared a solo a capella version of a part of "Bridge Over Troubled Water," in which she just casually sits and sings it on a bed. It's an impressive rendition on its own, highlighting Yebba's soulful, effortless voice.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
True

Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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