Lawyer travels the world to eat at Michelin-starred restaurants
She's eaten at over 100 celebrated restaurants worldwide
In the last five years, she has chomped her way through more than 100 restaurants around the world.
A hundred Michelin-starred restaurants, that is. There are about 2,000 such restaurants worldwide.
"I just love eating good food, I appreciate how the chefs combine the flavours to produce a result that is greater than the sum of its parts," says Miss Sylvia Taslim, who is in her 30s.
When Miss Taslim is not practising law, she is usually travelling somewhere, on the hunt for good food. She has been savouring food from all over the world, including in Japan, the UK, France and the US.
"When I travel for work, I will try to have one nice meal if I can, even if I have to eat alone," she adds. Some of her trips are with her family and her boyfriend.
Her research comes from recommendations that she gets from her own reading, and what she hears from friends.
Despite the notorious difficulty in getting reservations at acclaimed restaurants - which can be a wait as long as six months - Miss Taslim says she has been lucky.
She laughs: "My secretary is resourceful, she manages it well."
Hotel concierges and connections help too, she adds, animatedly talking about how she managed to get a table at a famous three-Michelin-starred restaurant in Hong Kong later this month, thanks to her friends.
The restaurant is known to have a waiting list more than a month long.
When asked what her fascination with good food is, Miss Taslim says it started when she was younger.
She says: "Most people pull out memories of their first roller-coaster ride or first birthday party when they talk about their childhood. For me, they are dining experiences."
DIM SUM MEMORY
Her fondest memory as a child are the times she ate dim sum with her family at the Shang Palace restaurant at the Shangri-La Hotel here.
"Ever since then, good food has been one of the most important things in my life," Miss Taslim adds.
All that food does not come cheap, but Miss Taslim says compared to the prices here, they are not so bad.
The most she has paid for a meal overseas is $500, which is significantly lower than the whopping $1,000 per person she spent at a restaurant here.
She says: "Of course, I do not eat at restaurants all the time. I cook, and sometimes I try to replicate the exciting dishes that I have eaten."
The best Michelin-starred restaurant she has eaten at? "Nihonryori Ryugin in Tokyo," says Miss Taslim, without a moment's hesitation.
She goes back to the three-starred restaurant often, due to its seasonal menu changes. Miss Taslim says: "The entire meal is always a feast for the senses."
News of the Michelin guide coming to Singapore excites Miss Taslim, who says that it is good for the food scene here to gain the recognition it deserves. "Maybe it can entice people to open up more restaurants here," she says.
Despite having travelled the world, Miss Taslim admits there is nothing quite like comfort food. "Sometimes, you just want to have fries from McDonald's or char kway teow from your favourite hawker."
Gourmet tours in demand
The Michelin guides have been published for more than 100 years.
A three-star rating, the highest possible, means that a restaurant serves "exceptional cuisine, worth a special journey".
Many people make special trips just to eat at these places, just as the guides tells them to.
There are companies here that offer customised travel itineraries, where food is placed as the topmost priority.
For instance, 65 per cent of local travel company Quotient Travelplanner's customers ask to have meals at these star-studded restaurants.
"Singaporeans love food, so good food is of course a top priority for many of them," says a spokesman for Quotient.
Getting a reservation at these restaurants is not easy and the waiting time ranges from two to six months.
Most travellers already know the places they want to dine at.
It is through their well-maintained connections that these planners can get the reservations for their clients.
The spokesman adds: "It depends on the place and time, but we try our best to give customers what they want."
According to Quotient, a three-starred restaurant meal costs an average of $270.But money is not the only cost these travellers have to keep in mind.
Getting to these places can require long detours, sometimes lasting for hours or even days.
Country Holidays, another travel company, plans itineraries based on customers' interests in gourmet meals and wine in countries such as Spain, France and Japan.
Michelin-starred restaurants feature prominently in each of these itineraries. Country Holidays also arranges for visits that might interest foodies, like trips to vineyards and specialised food shops.
How far will chefs go to reach for stars?
Unless you are a foodie, you may not have heard of the Michelin stars.
But for those in the food industry, they are very important.
People have gone to extremes over these stars.
In 2003, a chef from France, Mr Bernard Loiseau, killed himself because his restaurant was about to lose its prized three-star status, reports said.
When Gordon Ramsay's restaurant in New York lost its two stars in 2013, the celebrity chef admitted to crying.
Earlier this week, Michelin announced that it is collaborating with the Singapore Tourism Board and Robert Parker Wine Advocate to roll out a Singapore edition, which is expected to be ready next year.
This will be the first guide for a South-east Asian country, and the fourth in Asia following Hong Kong, Japan and Macau.
How concerned are chefs here?
Will chefs make radical changes to their menus to butter Michelin up?
The head chef of Bacchanalia, Mr Ivan Brehm, says: "We will continue what we are doing, and that is how it should be, being rewarded for the work you are doing."
Similarly, Mr Hans Lueftenegger, 33, the chef from Kaiserhaus, says: "There is nothing that will change, we will just deliver outstanding service and food."
Even celebrity chefs such as Mr Andre Chiang, 39, is weary of expectations.
"Michelin has very clear guidelines and criteria for which restaurant to be awarded... We can only work hard and expect for the best to happen," says Mr Chiang.
His Restaurant Andre has been ranked the fifth best restaurant in Asia by the S. Pellegrino's World's 50 Best Restaurants.
There are some like Mr Bjorn Shen, 33, who don't seem to care.
The personable chef of Middle Eastern joint Artichoke laughs as he says: "We will not even be considered, our music is way too loud."
Even though the Michelin stars have been awarded to cheaper hole-in-the-wall places in Hong Kong, Mr Shen says that they will probably target high-end places.
No sour grapes about that he says, adding that he is excited for his friends in the industry: "I have many deserving friends, and I'll be happy if the stars can give their restaurants the recognition they deserve."
This could very well be the start of a great food revolution, as the stars have been known to attract people from all over the world.
It is a good thing for Singapore, says Mr Chiang. "Michelin is a powerful and prominent guide that maps out the best dining destinations in the world, (and its arrival confirms) that Singapore is a world culinary city."
Michelin has very clear guidelines and criteria for which restaurant to be awarded... We can only work hard and expect for the best to happen.
— Celebrity chef Andre Chiang