chefs working in modern busy restaurant

Do you get the Lingo?

Being able to effectively and succinctly communicate while your team is critical. Whether you’re just starting out in hospitality or you’re looking to test your industry knowledge, here are common terms for keeping things quick and concise.

Back of the House(BOH) The back of the restaurant, the kitchen and storage areas, where the chefs, cooks, prep people and dishwashers primarily work.
Behind Term to let another member of the staff know you are behind them.
Bev Nap The small square paper napkin on which a beverage rests.
Buried Being very behind schedule, and overwhelmed with work.
Chef de Partie  Station chefs; in the brigade system, these are the line cook positions, such as saucier, grillardin, etc. 
Clopen To have the closing shift followed by the opening shift the next day.
Coming’ Out Term to let another member of the staff know you are leaving the kitchen.
Comp To give something away for free, short for “complimentary.”Usually done by owners or managers to get surprised and delight important customers or to smooth over problems.“Table 12’s chicken was raw! Comp the whole table desserts and coffee!”
Cover  The term that describes a guest as a statistic; is typically used at the beginning of and end-of-night headcounts. “I did 50 covers tonight.” 
Cremate it(or Kill it) To almost burn something or be very overcooked; extra well done. 
Cryovaced Generally used with meat products, but many dried goods are packed this way to retain freshness. Cryovacing is a process used to remove any excess oxygen from a bag, and then the bag is heat-sealed to make it airtight.
Cut When a server has been cut off from taking tables to do side work and finish the shift.
Double Working two shifts in a row.
Double/Triple Q When more than one table is seated in a particular station at the same time.
Dragging Taking a long time, is usually the result of being weeded.
Drop Start cooking the accompanied item. The mussels are almost done, better drop the calamari.”
Dying For food or drink to lose quality due to sitting around waiting to be picked up (e.g., ice melting into a drink and causing it to be watered down, food drying up for sitting under the heat lamps for too long). “Are their apps clear? Their entrees are dying.”
Expediter / Co-ordinator The person who coordinates all orders in the kitchen.
Family Meal The staff meal either before or after a shift.
Fire Begin to cook. “Fire mains on table four!”
Food Cost The amount a menu item costs to prepare. 
Foodie A guest who is a self-proclaimed food enthusiast/connoisseur.
Hands! Signifies a table’s order is ready, and that any available server should take it out. Usually called out by cooks and chefs.
Heard A common response is to imply that something is understood.
Hockey Puck A very well-done hamburger.
Hold To leave something off a dish.
Hot Behind Someone is coming behind you with hot pans, dishes, etc., so move out of the way.
In the Weeds Way behind overwhelmed with work. Pertains to situations in both the front and back of the house.
Line The workspace of the kitchen.
Mains The main course of guests’ meals.
Marry To combine two or more containers.
No Call/No Show An employee who does not show up and does not call ahead to inform the team knows. A reservation that does not show up and does not call to inform the business.
Nuke It To microwave.
On the Books The total people that have made reservations for the night.
On the Fly Refers to emergency status; immediate need; takes priority over all other things.
Party A group of people at a table.
POS Point of Sale – the hardware and software system used to send orders to the kitchen, cash-out guests, etc.
Pump/Swing It Out Getting food out quickly.
Push To promote a specific menu item in hopes of getting more orders.“Push the duck, we have 15 orders.”
Refire A dish that needs to be remade on the fly.‘Refire table three. Now!”
Regular A person who visits several times a week or month.
Rollup Silverware rolled into a napkin.
Runner A staff member who takes food to a table.
Sacked/Fired A term referring to an employee being fired; usually employees are considered sacked/fired after a major screw-up.
Section The specific tables were waited on by a particular server.
Server The preferred term for waiter or waitress.‘Could you find my server, please? I need a refill on my soda.”
Set-Up A set of cutlery and table setting, sometimes glassware. I need 2 extra setups for table 4.”
Shelf Life The amount of time in storage that a product can maintain quality and freshness.
Shift The period of time staff is scheduled to work.
Shift Drink A free drink for staff from the manager when the shift is over. Usually as a reward for hard work (or an unofficial apology for a night of triple seats).
Short When the amount of money taken in at the close does not match the money in one’s till.
Duties/Sidework The additional work was given to the front-of-house staff to do after or before their shift (e.g., refilling salt and pepper shakers, polishing silverware).
Sizzle Platter Heavy grade metal oval plate that is used to reheat or cook something in a high-temperature oven.
Slammed Busy, but not as out of control as “in the weeds”.See “In The Weeds”.
Sommelier Wine Steward or Wine Waiter.
SOS Sauce on the side.
Sous Chef Generally the second in command in a kitchen.
Split ‘X’-ways Usually referring to how to divide a bill. They want it split 5-ways.”
Stretch To make a particular item last through an entire shift.
Sub To substitute one menu choice for another.
Table The name was given to the entire group of people dining.‘What’s going on with Table 6?”
Slip/Ticket The physical printout in the kitchen of a table’s order.
Trail A job interview that lasts 8-12 hours, allows you to get a firsthand view of what life on the job would be like by actually doing the job.
Turn To replace a finished party with a new party.
Turn & Burn Turn a table quickly because the table is needed for a later reservation.
Turns A number of times a table has had the full revolution of service from being seated to getting the bill.
Up Refers to a menu item up in the window, ready to go to a table.
Upsell To convince a guest to choose an option that costs more.
Verbal To tell a guest of a menu modification that is not printed.“We’re going to verbal the change on the chicken tonight’.
Verbal Tip Praises from a customer in lieu of actual money.
VIP A very important customer.
Void To take off the bill with no financial loss to the restaurant.
Wait station Area for waitstaff to keep silver, coffee, or water.
Walk-in A refrigerated room for cold storage of perishable items; also a soundproof room for Chef scream therapy.
In the Weeds To be backlogged, overwhelmed, behind in your duties.
Well The cheapest liquor of a certain type.
Well drinks Well, drinks are made from the inexpensive house liquors on hand.
Pass A shelf, usually heated, where the food is placed after preparation and awaiting delivery to the table.
Yes, chef A response to indicate “I understand.” The appropriate response to any question or statement said by the Head Chef. En français, “Oui, Chef.

Email me with your thoughts and additions and we can expand the list.

Marius Joubert

Marius Joubert
Author: Marius Joubert

Founder of the first true community for the restaurant and hospitality industry.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top