Street Vendor to Sell His Michelin Star Recipe for $2 Million

It's the cheapest Michelin-Star dish in the world; a plate of soya sauce chicken from this Singaporean street hawker will set you back $1.80. But the secret recipe is for sale, and it's a little steeper.

Singaporean chef Chan Hon Meng poses in front of his Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle stall in Singapore. (Photo credit ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Singaporean chef Chan Hon Meng poses in front of his Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle stall in Singapore. (Photo credit ROSLAN RAHMAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Christoph Waltz. Morgan Freeman. Rodney Dangerfield. Betty White. All people whose careers ended up in the stratosphere — but got little to no recognition until they were 50.


Chan Hon Meng, 51, of Singapore is the latest addition to that list.

Mr. Chan has been cooking soya sauce chicken since 1989, and this past July, his stall was awarded a Michelin star in the inaugural edition of the Singapore Michelin Guide.

Since then, Liao Fan Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice & Noodle has seen a 300% increase in customers, selling up to 160 chickens a day. Mr. Chan claims 90% of his customers are now tourists seeking out the famed “cheapest Michelin-starred dish in the world.”

And the hits keep coming: the hawker now claims he’s in talks with five companies to sell his recipe, including international food and beverage conglomerates and a major hotel chain.

His starting price is $2 million, and he insists on continuing as a partner. His business goals are modest, though: he only expects to become the second-biggest chicken chain in the world, behind KFC.

Singaporean hawker Chan Hon Meng chopping braised chicken at his Hong Kong Soya Sauce Chicken Rice and Noodle stall in Singapore. Chan is one of two street hawkers awarded one star by the culinary bible Michelin.

Of course, Mr. Chan's stall isn’t the first small-scale recipe to blow up.

New York’s iconic Shake Shack started as a hot dog cart in Madison Square Park before famed restaurateur Danny Meyer pitched it as an actual shack. Sixteen years later, the franchise is serving better burgers than In N’ Out in over ten countries on three continents..

The granddaddy of modern hot sauces, Tabasco, started when Edmund McIlhenny decided he wanted his own hot sauce. His recipe is now shipped internationally from Avery Island, Louisiana.

Angie Cowger of Custard Stand Chili got her start by selling her grandfather’s chili above a car wash in West Virginia. She and her husband, Dee, now own two Custard Stand restaurants, have franchised out four more, and count 200 Walmarts, 140 Kroger stores and 15 Sam’s Clubs among their distributors.

The Bush Brothers started a tomato cannery, but it wasn’t until two generations later when Condon Bush mass-produced his mother’s baked beans recipe that the company finally took off.

The Mary’s Gone Crackers brand of gluten-free crackers is now in 10,000 stores with over 8 million boxes sold, and all because celiac founder Mary Waldner wasn’t able to eat the pre-dinner bread offered at restaurants.

Eleven-year-old Mikaila Ulmer wanted to help fight the bee population crisis, so she started selling her great-grandmother’s lemonade recipe, which uses honey as a sweetener, instead of sugar. One Shark Tank appearance, 55 Whole Foods stores, and $11 million later, Mikaila is a successful, pre-teen beverage tycoon.

And of course, no conversation about chicken moguls with runaway success is complete without mentioning Harland David Sanders, whose special blend of herbs and spices eventually built the poultry empire Chan Hon Meng himself looks up to.

There are many paths to many kinds of success, it seems, but key to all of them is patience and an earnest desire to create something authentic.

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CRISPR therapy cures first genetic disorder inside the body

It marks a breakthrough in using gene editing to treat diseases.

Credit: National Cancer Institute via Unsplash
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This article was originally published by our sister site, Freethink.

For the first time, researchers appear to have effectively treated a genetic disorder by directly injecting a CRISPR therapy into patients' bloodstreams — overcoming one of the biggest hurdles to curing diseases with the gene editing technology.

The therapy appears to be astonishingly effective, editing nearly every cell in the liver to stop a disease-causing mutation.

The challenge: CRISPR gives us the ability to correct genetic mutations, and given that such mutations are responsible for more than 6,000 human diseases, the tech has the potential to dramatically improve human health.

One way to use CRISPR to treat diseases is to remove affected cells from a patient, edit out the mutation in the lab, and place the cells back in the body to replicate — that's how one team functionally cured people with the blood disorder sickle cell anemia, editing and then infusing bone marrow cells.

Bone marrow is a special case, though, and many mutations cause disease in organs that are harder to fix.

Another option is to insert the CRISPR system itself into the body so that it can make edits directly in the affected organs (that's only been attempted once, in an ongoing study in which people had a CRISPR therapy injected into their eyes to treat a rare vision disorder).

Injecting a CRISPR therapy right into the bloodstream has been a problem, though, because the therapy has to find the right cells to edit. An inherited mutation will be in the DNA of every cell of your body, but if it only causes disease in the liver, you don't want your therapy being used up in the pancreas or kidneys.

A new CRISPR therapy: Now, researchers from Intellia Therapeutics and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals have demonstrated for the first time that a CRISPR therapy delivered into the bloodstream can travel to desired tissues to make edits.

We can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically.

—JENNIFER DOUDNA

"This is a major milestone for patients," Jennifer Doudna, co-developer of CRISPR, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR.

"While these are early data, they show us that we can overcome one of the biggest challenges with applying CRISPR clinically so far, which is being able to deliver it systemically and get it to the right place," she continued.

What they did: During a phase 1 clinical trial, Intellia researchers injected a CRISPR therapy dubbed NTLA-2001 into the bloodstreams of six people with a rare, potentially fatal genetic disorder called transthyretin amyloidosis.

The livers of people with transthyretin amyloidosis produce a destructive protein, and the CRISPR therapy was designed to target the gene that makes the protein and halt its production. After just one injection of NTLA-2001, the three patients given a higher dose saw their levels of the protein drop by 80% to 96%.

A better option: The CRISPR therapy produced only mild adverse effects and did lower the protein levels, but we don't know yet if the effect will be permanent. It'll also be a few months before we know if the therapy can alleviate the symptoms of transthyretin amyloidosis.

This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine.

—FYODOR URNOV

If everything goes as hoped, though, NTLA-2001 could one day offer a better treatment option for transthyretin amyloidosis than a currently approved medication, patisiran, which only reduces toxic protein levels by 81% and must be injected regularly.

Looking ahead: Even more exciting than NTLA-2001's potential impact on transthyretin amyloidosis, though, is the knowledge that we may be able to use CRISPR injections to treat other genetic disorders that are difficult to target directly, such as heart or brain diseases.

"This is a wonderful day for the future of gene-editing as a medicine," Fyodor Urnov, a UC Berkeley professor of genetics, who wasn't involved in the trial, told NPR. "We as a species are watching this remarkable new show called: our gene-edited future."

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