Singapore-based chef Chan Hon Meng is a street vendor. But that didn’t hold him back from greatness: He recently made history, becoming the world’s first-ever Michelin-starred street food chef.
Street food vendors native to Singapore, Malaysia, and Hong Kong are known as “food hawkers.” They run the food truck parks of the Asian world—but on a much larger scale. There, vendors are collected together into buildings, setting up in stalls in an open-air marketplace, “hawking” a variety of cheap foods to lines of eager and hungry patrons.
Chan’s backstory is probably a bit more humble than the majority of his Michelin-starred contemporaries. He grew up in Ipoh, Malaysia, the son of farmers, who raised pigs and ducks and harvested their own crops. Dropping out of school at the age of 15, he launched his 35-year cooking career, gaining experience first in the restaurant business before going out on his own on the street full time. Since he learned his early cooking skills from a Hong Kong food chef, his signature hawker dish became Hong Kong–style soya sauce chicken noodles (check out a similar recipe of the dish here). To make things easy, he called his stall “Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle.”
After garnering buzz over the years for his delicious food, in July 2016, Chan was invited to the annual Michelin Guide Singapore gala dinner. That night, he received a single Michelin star.
For more on Chef Chan’s incredible story, watch the video below. Check out TripAdvisor UK’s near-perfect rating of the stall here.