Restaurant Lingo: For Beginners

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restaurant lingoRestaurants tend to develop a language of their own and the longer you spend in the business, the more it begins to sound like your native tongue. I routinely catch myself uttering “coming behind” when I’m passing slow old ladies at Wal-Mart, rather than politely saying “excuse me.”

Here are some samples of Restaurant-ese:

Murdered- This refers to food that has been ruined, usually by overcooking.

Radar Love- Putting food in the microwave.

Whopper- This is what some chefs call a hamburger, especially at fancy restaurants where they are resentful of having to serve such commonly requested things.

Angry Burger- An Angus burger.

Going Down- This happens when cooks get backed up with too many tickets and are unable to get the food up on time.

86- This means without something, for instance, “86 the tomato.” Back in the days of paper time cards, writing a big 86 on your card was a standard way to quit.

Front of the House- This includes the servers, managers, and people that typically interact with customers.

Back of the House- This includes cooks, dishwashers, and people that typically don’t interact with customers.

The Guy With The Big Hat- The Chef. Cooks tend to tell people to “ask the guy with the big hat”.

All Day- This refers to the total amount of something needed, for instance, “we need four medium rare steaks all day.”

86 the picklesFire- This is an instruction to the cooks to start cooking an order, for instance, “Fire table six.”

On the Fly- This means to cook something last minute. If a server drops something or forgets to add something to an order, they may need a cook to hurry up and cook it “on the fly.”

Top- This is used to describe the number of customers at a table, for instance, a table of four is called a “four top.”

Window- This is the shelf area between the cooking line and the expediting area where finished food gets placed for servers to pick up.

Heard That- This is what cooks yell back to the Chef when he gives orders so he knows they heard his instructions.

Hot/Sharp Behind- This is a warning cooks say to let people know when they are walking behind them with a knife or a hot pan, in order to prevent injury.

Coming Around Hot/Sharp- This is way for cooks to let people know when they are turning a corner.

Last modified: March 18, 2013
Sasha Smith


This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.

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