Worldwide, many a chef dreams of having one of his or her signature dishes awarded a Michelin star. For over a century, Michelin has published a series of guidebooks recognizing exceptional food. More often than not, these establishments are the essence of fine dining but in 2016, Chan Hong Meng, a street vendor in Singapore proved that the award is definitely more about food than location.
Meng’s food stall, located in a large open-air food court had people waiting in line for his signature dish, chicken in Hong Kong soya sauce. Priced at $1.50 at the time, it became the cheapest Michelin starred dish in the world.
When Meng was invited to the Michelin Singapore Gala Dinner, he didn’t take it seriously. “I asked them, are you joking?” he said. “Why would Michelin come to my stall? Can a hawker even be nominated?” The answer was yes!
Meng’s business boomed after winning the award with tourists from across the globe visiting his stall, often waiting for hours to taste his famous chicken in Hong Kong soya sauce.
The demand was so high that Meng opened a quick-service restaurant called Hawker Chan, serving his award winning dishes at prices only marginally higher than at his food stall, at an 80-seater, air conditioned restaurant.
Despite his initial doubt of the authenticity of the invitation to that first award dinner, Meng has been invited to the Michelin Singapore Gala Dinner every year since to confirm his star status.
While Meng now spends most of his time at Hawker Chan’s, the original stall is still operating and prices remain reasonable and is only a three minute walk away, allowing him to ensure the quality of the food remains up to standard.
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