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.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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