Restaurant Lingo: For Beginners
Restaurants 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.”
Fire- 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
This story is part of our Small Business Corner, a peek into the life and trials of small business owners.