When blood suddenly gushed out of a little boy's mouth at a Swensen's outlet, restaurant manager Norman Tan hurriedly took tissue paper to stem the blood flow.
He went with the boy's parents as they rushed to a nearby pharmacy, before heading to a clinic and then the hospital. He even helped them jump to the front of a taxi queue by explaining the situation to those in the line. The parents found out later that their son had accidentally bitten his own tongue.
For "always going out of his way to ensure a memorable guest experience", as his employer put it, Mr Tan, 43, won the top honour at the annual Excellent Service Awards yesterday. In total, 2,520 service staff from the food and beverage (F&B) sector were given awards for their exceptional service attitude.
The number of winners - who received either a silver, gold or star award - was a 15 per cent increase over last year. The Excellent Service Awards is in its 22nd year.
Minister in the Prime Minister's Office Chan Chun Sing said that even as businesses are encouraged to innovate their business models and products, one thing does not change - the quality of service.
"Our service quality is benchmarked against our regional, global competitors. All it takes is just one black sheep to take down the entire brand (of) Singapore," said Mr Chan, who gave out the awards at a ceremony in Changi Business Park.
Mr Tan, who beat 21 other nominees to clinch the Superstar award - given to the best of the star award winners - said it was just his instinct to ensure the boy was in good hands in the incident that took place in 2014. He has been working at Swensen's for 10 years, doing eight-hour shifts six days a week. His weekends are usually spent working.
Despite the long hours, he said he enjoys putting a smile on his guests' faces. "Those who want to work in F&B must be prepared to sacrifice," he said, adding that his wife, an accountant, spends time with their seven-year-old son on weekends while he hangs out with the boy on weekdays.
Mr Vincent Tan, president of the Restaurant Association of Singapore, which organised the awards, said that even as the food service industry moves towards reducing reliance on manpower, service professionals continue to be "the bedrock" of an industry that contributes 0.8 per cent to the country's gross domestic product annually.
"It is now even more imperative that service standards are maintained and raised to provide a personal touch, so that we remain competitive and attractive for locals and visitors," he said.