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A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms

A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & TermsHere’s one of the most complete guides to restaurant lingo, terms and slang – including some that our readers left in the comment section below.

Click these links to jump to a letter to look up a term:
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W

And don’t forget to add your own terms to the comment section below!

A

* All Day – The total amount.  If table 12 orders two orders of salmon and table 19 orders four orders of salmon, that’s “six salmon, all day.”

B

* Back of the house – The back end of the restaurant, the kitchen and storage areas, where the chefs, cooks, prep people and dishwashers primarily work.

* Bev Nap – The little square paper napkin which a beverage rests on.

* Brigade System – The kitchen organization system instituted by Auguste Escoffier. Each position has a station and a set of well defined responsibilities.

* Bubble Dancer – A disrespectful name for one of the most valuable and unrecognized of kitchen staff – the dishwasher.

* Buried – See “In the weeds”. Way behind. Overwhelmed.

C

* Cambro – A large plastic pan used for storage of perishables and non-perishables. The term Cambro derives from the company that makes these containers. Also referred to as a Lexan (from a competing company).

* Campers – Customers that hang out at a table all night long and even turning off all the lights doesn’t get rid of them at closing time.

* Can’t cook his/her way out of a paper bag – Someone who can’t cook well, usually applied to describe someone thats a terrible cook/chef but thinks that he or she is the greatest. The origin of this phrase is used for many different things. A good expanation of some is found at: http://forum.wordreference.com/showthread.php?t=28317

* Chef de Partie – Station chefs. In the brigade system, these are the line cook positions, such as saucier, grillardin, etc.

* Commis – An apprentice. A cook who works under the Chef de Partie to learn the station and responsibilities.

* Comp – To give something away free. Usually done by owners or managers to get brownie points from important customers. Also used to smooth over problems. i.e. “Table 12’s chicken was raw!” “Comp the whole table desserts and coffee!”

* Cover – A customer, i.e.”It was a slow night, We only did 20 covers tonight.”

* Credits – An amount that is due back to a restaurant from the vendor for a mispicked, damaged or out of date product.  See mispicked.

* Cremate it or Kill it – To almost burn something or be very overcooked. i.e ” Table 5 wants his burger cremated” extra 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 than then the bag is heat sealed to make it airtight.  When receiving meat products that have been cryovaced, keep a look out for products that are discolored and brownlooking, this means the airtight seal has been broken and you should send the product back.

D

* Deuce – A table with only two seating spaces. For example, “Seat this deuce at Table 12″ See Top.

* Double – Two shifts in a row.  “I’m exhausted, I just pulled a double.”

* Double/Triple Sat – When more than one table is seated in a particular station at the same time.

* Dupe – The ticket/information that gets submitted to the kitchen so the cooks can cook orders of food.

* Drop the Cheque – Taking a guest’s bill to their table for payment.

* Drop – Start cooking the accompanied item. “The mussels are almost done, better drop the calamari.”

* Drop Food/Order – The moment at which the kitchen begins to prepare a guest’s food or the moment a server delivers an order to the customers. “I just dropped the drinks on table 4.”

* Dying/Dead Plate – Food that is nearly or totally unservable, either due to temperature, appearance, the waitstaff talking to look to pick up from the hot line or wrong ingredients. For example, ‘My shrimps dying in the window because I don’t have veg (accompanying vegetables) to go with it!” Also called beyond in the weeds.

E

* Early Bird – Generally elderly people or tourists who want everything included for very little money. The $12.95 all you can eat buffet.

* Early Bird Special – A cheap meal that is generally available for a limited amount of time when the restaurant opens for service.

* Eighty-six, 86 – “We’re out of Sam’s! (Sam Adams) 86 it!” or the kitchen is out of the item ordered. To remove an item from an order or from the menu because the kitchen or bar is out.

* Expeditor, Expo – Person in charge of organizing food from the kitchen and sending it to the dining room; a mediator of the line.

F

* Fire, Fire it – Order given by the head of the line to the other cooks to begin preparation of certain orders, such as “Fire those shepherds pies!”

* Foodie – (Depending on context) The bane of cooks and chefs everywhere, a Wanna-Be professional cook/chef. There is nothing more irritating then going to a dinner party or meeting at a restaurant with a group of people and there is always at least one “Foodie” attending who proceeds to tell you all about how he/she made the most fabulous chicken dish. etc etc. until you just want to strangle them     ZZZ……………

* Food cost – What a menu item costs to prepare. The cost of a chicken entrée with meat, sauce, vegetables and starch is your food cost. Most restaurants run between a 30-40% food cost, this does not include the cost of overhead that needs to get added in before you start making a profit.

* Front of the house – The front end of the restaurant, the dining room and bar where the customers are served and wait staff, bartenders, bussers and dining room managers primarily work.

G

* Garde-Manger – Pantry chef/station. The postion responsible for cold food preparation, including salads, cold appetizers and plating desserts.

H

* Hockey Puck – A well done hamburger.

I

* In the Weeds – Can have meanings for both the front and back of the house. The kitchen being in the weeds can mean having only one 2 ft by 3 ft grill and having 40 people order medium well steaks in the space of five minutes. In the front of the house, it could mean one server just had two parties of 15 seated at the same time and they all want separate checks.

J

* Jeopardy/Wheel of Fortune Crowd – Early bird diners. Need to be home early or looking for cheap meals that include everything.

K

* Kill it – To make something very overcooked; see Cremate it.

M

* Mispick – An item that is ordered from a vendor that has a label on it that does not match the product it contains.

N

* No Call/No Show – Employee who does not show up and does not call or a Reservation that does not show up and does not call.

* Nuke it – to Microwave.

O

* On a Rail or On the Fly – Something needed quickly, like yesterday.  “I need table 2’s salads on a rail!”  Or, “Give me a well done tender…on the fly.”

* Overhead – The added in factors when you are costing out menu products to make sure you are making a profit. Overhead may include electricity costs, paper and chemical products, employee salaries and any additional costs that may be relevant in serving an item.

P

* Paddy Well – A term used very frequently in Irish Pubs and Restaurants, which means to cook it until there is no possibility of life remaining. The next level above Cremate it.

* Party – A group of people at a table.

* Pittsburgh Rare – Burnt outside, rare inside.

* Pump it out – Getting food out quickly.

* Push- “Sell” it.  Put it in the window or “We only have two orders of sole left, push it.”

R

* Redneck – The non-tipping public, not related to a rural type person, meaning a cheapskate. See stiffs.

* Rollup – Silverware rolled into a napkin, usually linen but can be paper.

S

* Sacked – Fired, usually employees are considered sacked after a major screw up, like serving a banquet of 200 people the $100.00 bottles of Dom Perignon champagne instead of the $12.95 bottles that they were supposed to get.

* Saucier – Sauté Chef/station. The chef de partie responsible for all the sautéed items and their sauces.

* Server – The preferred term for waiter or waitress, for example, “Could you find my server, please, I need a refill on my Pepsi.”

* Shelf life – The amount of time in storage that a product can maintain quality, freshness and edibility.

* Sidework – Work performed by front of the house staff  (e.g., refilling salt and pepper shakers, polishing silverware).

* Shoe – A slacker cook/chef. Someone who doesn’t cook well. The only origin for this word that I know of was told to me by a European Chef I worked for. The term Shoe came from the fact that in Europe most Chefs in the Northern regions wore wooden clogs in the kitchen. A bad or clumsy chef/cook used to stumble alot and was made fun of by the other cooks and chefs.

* Shoe Chef – (The Sous Chef) See Shoe, sometimes accompanied by the phrase “The Shoe Chef at (my restaurant) can’t cook his/her way out of a paper bag.”

* Shorting – An unscrupulous method used by some vendors to charge a restaurant for more product than they actually receive.

* Sizzle Platter – Heavy grade metal oval plate that is used to reheat or cook something in a high temperature oven.

* Skate – Leaving without doing sidework.

* Slammed – Busy.  See “In The Weeds”.  Perhaps not as out of control as “in the weeds”.

* Sommelier – Wine Steward or wine waiter.

* Sous Chef – Generally the second in command in a kitchen; there can be an Executive Sous Chef, generally found in a larger kitchen with a lot of staff. The Sous Chef runs the kitchen when it’s the Chef’s day off or he/she is not available.

* Starch – Starch can be potatoes, rice, grain or pasta, the other accompaniment besides the “Veg” to an plated meal.

* Station – The set number of tables waited on by a particular server.

* Stiffed – A customer has left the restaurant without tipping the server.

* Stiffs – Non-tipping customers, see redneck.

* Still Moving or Still Mooing – Ultra rare, “they want the tender (tenderloin) still Mooing.”

* Stretch It – To make four orders of hollandaise sauce last through an entire shift by “stretching it” with whatever is available and edible.

T

* Table Turn – Number of times a table has had the full revolution of service from being seated to getting the check and then reset for the next group of customers.

* Tare – The weight of a container that the product from a vendor is delivered in. This weight should legally be deducted from the actual weight of the product. See shorting.

* Tender – A tenderloin.

* The Man, the Boogie Man – Health Inspector. “Wash your hands, The Man is here!” “Better mop the walk-in, the Boogie Man’s coming in 10 minutes.”

* Top – The number in a dining party. For example, an eight top is a dining party of eight. A three top is a party of three.

* Toss – An unscrupulous method used by some vendors to make a box look like its full of product.

* Totes – Plastic containers that are usually used to deliver fish. They are frequently rectangular but sometimes square or round. Totes are horded by kitchen staff because once washed and sanitized, they make excellent airtight storage containers for just about anything.

* Tourne – Vegetables that are cut to resemble a small, slightly tapered cork, but instead of being smooth they are cut to have seven equally large facets. Generally root vegetables, potatoes, carrots, but sometimes zucchini or other soft vegetables are used. Traditionally, they are boiled, steamed or roasted.

* Turn & Burn – Turn a table quickly (usually because there is a long waiting list for tables). see Table Turn

* Tron – Old 80’s slang for a waiter or waitress.

* Two second rule – The amount of time between when a piece of food hits the floor and when it’s picked up and placed in a sauté pan or on a plate, generally accompanied by a guilty look to see if anyone else saw it.

U

* Upsell – To suggest a higher priced item. “I’d like a glass of merlot, please.”  suggesting Iron Horse at $6.00 a glass as opposed to the house vino at $4.00 a glass.

V

* Veg – The vegetable accompaniment to a plated meal.

* VIP – A very important customer, perhaps well known and deserving of extra special treatment. Food critics fall into this category. Generally accompanied by many Comps.

W

* Waitron – Coined in late ’80’s to avoid using “sexist” terms “Waiter/Waitress”. Was replaced in the ’90’s by Server.

* Walk-in – A refrigerated room for cold storage of perishable items.

* Walked – A customer has left without paying the bill or a employee get fed up and just left in the middle of their shift.

* Window – A shelf, usually heated and connected to the kitchen, upon which the food is placed after preparation and awaiting delivery to the table.

* Well drinks – “Well” drinks are made from the inexpensive house liquors on hand. i.e. If you ask for a unspecified gin and tonic you will get whatever gin they serve as opposed to a Tanqueray and tonic.

Add your restaurant slang terms in the comments below!

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119 Responses to A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms

  1. Erin November 18, 2009 at 2:17 pm #

    Other ones from my days:

    Dobie – The ubiquitous yellow mesh sponge in every kitchen. Can scrape any sort of dried food particle off of any dishes.

    Hokey (noun or verb) – The non electric vacuum used to clean up after children who smash every cracker on the floor. In more casual restaurants, hostesses hokey during dead periods as part of their sidework.

    Bleeder – When a ketchup bottle has been sitting in a hot kitchen undisturbed for too long, and the contents ferment. When you open it, the gases cause the ketchup to splatter upward, all over you.

    • Greg McGuire November 18, 2009 at 2:22 pm #

      Those are some good additions Erin… Thanks!

    • Michelle June 21, 2013 at 4:50 pm #

      Hobart brand name also slang term for dishwasher.

  2. Annalee November 19, 2009 at 7:43 am #

    Wow, it is a whole different language! I worked in the front of the house as a hostess and I was familiar with many of these but this is a pretty comprehensive list! Now I will be more aware when dining out for some of the new ones though.

  3. Seth May 19, 2010 at 6:11 pm #

    Nice list. Here’s some additions.

    How about steam table (or prep station) pans being called by the fraction of a full hotel pan that they are, as in “Can you grab me a 6 pan”, or “There’s a 9 pan of it over here.” Or even specifying deep or shallow: “I have half a deep 6 of sauce left”

    “I needed it yesterday,” or “last week” when you need something in a hurry.

    Verbalize: to tell customers about an option that’s not printed on the menu. “I’ll verbalize the special until we’re out.”

    Kitchen equipment and appliance slang: spider, china cap, rondo, robot coupe, reach-in, lowboy.

    SOS–sauce on the side
    Hold–to leave something off
    Sub–to substitute one menu choice for another

    Use first–inventory that needs to be used next so it won’t go bad. “The use-first eggs are in the walk-in”

    • Greg McGuire May 20, 2010 at 2:41 pm #

      Thanks for making some great additions to the list Seth!

  4. awibs June 13, 2010 at 3:53 am #

    some of this is redundant, but some of it is different. this is a version of the same idea i posted recently to a waiting tables livejournal community. notably, it includes foreign-language slang such as people often wish they knew when they get a job in a restaurant, but does NOT contain standard foreign-language words that can be looked up in a dictionary, such as standard french culinary terms.

    86: verb. to be out of, or to deliberately put a stop on / get rid of. “We are 86 the special.” “The spinach tastes funky, so chef is 86-ing it.” “He was caught drinking; he’s been 86’d.”

    a la mosca: adjective. Idiomatic Spanish. literally “of the fly.” On emergency status, immediately.

    all day: adjective. in total. Used to note the total quantity of an item on multiple tickets. “fire two filets medium rare, one salmon. fire one filet medium rare, one filet medium. three medium rare all day!”

    big-top: noun. Table of a lot, so many you lost count. Variant on the terms “two-top” “three-top,” etc. Like a “bajillion,” an unspecified large number.

    campers: noun. customers that remain sitting at a table for no apparent reason, having completely finished eating and drinking,

    Chef: Honorific. The respectful form of address, equivalent to “Sir,” for the person of greatest final authority on duty at the moment. The Expo may only be referred to as “Chef” in absentia of the actual Chef de Cuisine. Sarcastically, anyone who presumes to give orders. “Chef says this is how we’re doing it today.” “Yes, Chef!”

    clopen: noun. two shifts with less than eight hours between them, specifically, a close followed by an open.

    comida: idiomatic Spanish. Literally “food.” Specifically implies pre-shift staff meal. “They made chicken for comida again.”

    comp: noun, verb. to give something away, to take off the check at a financial loss. short for “complimentary.” NOT the same as a void. Usually combined with a reason for the giveaway, eg, “Comp no like,” “comp b-day,” “comp spill.”

    cover: noun. a guest as a statistic, used for end-of night head counts. “I did 50 covers tonight.”

    deuce: noun. table of two.

    double (or triple): two shifts in a row on the same day. a triple is only possible in restaurants that are open through three meal periods, such as breakfast, lunch and dinner, or that have a “late night” or “graveyard” shift, such as 24-hr diners and nightclubs.

    dragging: verb. taking a long time, very backlogged. can refer to a course, a drink, a person, or an entire production station. “the bar is dragging.” “my entrees are dragging.” “my busser is dragging.” “dessert station is dragging.” dragging is usually the result of being weeded.

    drop: verb. to present a customer with. “drop the check.” “entrees have been dropped.”

    dying: adjective. for food or drink to lose quality due to sitting around waiting to be picked up, such as ice melting into a drink and causing it to be watered down, or food drying up for sitting under the heat lamps for too long. “are their apps clear? their entrees are dying.”

    expediter, expo: noun. the person who coordinates all orders in the kitchen. on a staff too small to have a full-time expo, a chef de cuisine, sous chef, or head food runner may fill the role. sarcastically, refers to a person who stands around giving orders rather than actually working during a task that does not require an expo, such as making drinks or moving tables.

    filler: noun. a menu item, usually savory, that can be produced on the fly to “fill the gap” when a course is dragging. Often a cold pantry item (pre-rolled maki, guacamole, spring rolls), soup (if kept on warmers rather than made-to-order) or the amuse-bouche.

    fire: verb. begin to cook. “fire course three on table seventy four!”

    line: noun. the workspace of the entree cooks, so named because of how it is usually shaped. in a large enough operation, other food stations may also form a line. “hot app line,” “cold app line,” “dessert line.”

    no call / no show: noun. a person who does not show up as expected and does not give notice, also the act of doing so. almost universal grounds for dismissal if the no call / no show was an employee.

    on the fly: emergency status. immediately. taking priority over all other things.

    resos: noun. abbreviation for “reservation.” Can refer to either a literal reservation, eg “I made the resos for 7:30″ or people who have made reservations, eg “we have 350 resos on the books tonight.”

    run: verb. to bring something to a table. “run this food.” “run my drinks.”

    sarapiar: verb. Spanglish. To set up, as in, a table. “sarapiar la mesa.”

    skate: verb. to run out on something. an employee can skate without completing sidework, a customer can skate without paying.

    stiff: verb. to leave without tipping, but after paying. a specific insult to the server. “i got stiffed.”

    turn: verb. to replace a finished party with a new party. “We have a lot of people waiting, you need to turn your tables.” noun. a round of guests. “It’s slow, I’ve only had like one turn tonight.”

    two- three- or any number – top: noun. table with the specified number of people. “Your two-top is looking for you.”

    upsell: verb. to convince a guest to choose a higher-quality option that costs more, eg a drink with top-shelf liquor instead of well.

    VIP pass: noun. a signature or “reserve” hor d’oeurve or amuse-bouche not found elsewhere on the menu that is standing ready to send to VIP tables.

    verbal: verb. to list off menu modifications that are not printed. “We’re 86 the Gewurtz, menus haven’t been changed because we expect it back in house on Friday, so verbal it.”

    verbal tipper: noun. a very enthusiastic guest who will praise you to the skies in lieu of tipping you actual money.

    void: verb. to take off the check with no financial loss to the restaurant. NOT the same as a comp. “It was a double-ring, stopped the extra at the bar, void no waste.”

    walk-in, walk-ins: noun. customers who showed up without a reservation.

    walkout: noun. to leave without paying, not after paying and without tip. “i had a walkout.”

    well: the polite word for the cheapest liquor of a certain type. opposite of top-shelf. “Well vodka neat? That’s disgusting!”

    window: noun. the shelf or platform between the workspace of the cooks and everyone else. Sometimes an actual window between two rooms, sometimes just a long shelf with heat lamps over it. Where the cooks place the food for pickup.

    weeded, in the weeds: to be backlogged, overwhelmed, behind in your duties. “I am in the weeds.” “hot app line is weeded.”

  5. ex-waitress December 15, 2010 at 6:43 pm #

    A few we used to use in NYC that I don’t see above:

    Blue Hairs – similar to Wheel of Fortune crowd – elderly who show up at 4pm for the early bird special and then insist on splitting the entrees.

    Wave the Bottle Over It – ordering an extremely dry martini aka vodka on the rocks.

    Don’t Cry Over It – Don’t add any salt while cooking.

    Set Up – a set of cutlery and napkins, sometimes glassware, as in “I need 2 extra setups for table 4.”

    Up – meaning up in the window, ready to go to table as in “Two salads up!”

    Down – server just put food on a table as in “Two salads down!”

    On the Back Forty – working an undesirable station in the dining room.

  6. Heather Turner January 20, 2011 at 12:28 pm #

    Dear awibs,

    awibs says: “June 13, 2010 at 3:53 am, some of this is redundant, but some of it is different. this is a version of the same idea i posted recently to a waiting tables livejournal community”

    Interesting list you have considering this was written originally in November of 2009
    http://chefforfeng.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/glossary-of-restaurant-lingo-and-terms/

  7. Dove January 31, 2011 at 3:51 pm #

    On the Judge Jeanine Pirro show today a young woman said all the register computers went down one day and the manager said to “work out of the bag”. What does that mean?

  8. Dove January 31, 2011 at 3:54 pm #

    See my prior quesiton. To clarify: the young woman worked at a bowling alley snack bar. The judge seemed to know what she was talking about when the woman said her manager told her to “work out of the bag” when the registers went down. What does “work out of the bag” mean? The woman refused to do it.

  9. Garon February 28, 2011 at 12:25 pm #

    “out of the bag” refers to the cash bag or change bag. It requires the server or attendant to make change by hand/mentally. It’s a real pain in the kiester when the POS goes down.

    POS is the hardware and software used by the store to send orders to the kitchen, cash out guests, etc. “Point of Sale”

    I also didn’t see “Sell” in the glossary. It’s a verb usually used by the expo when requesting items to complete a table.

    “Sell me a stuffed tender mid rare for 231.”

    “Am I really waiting on one ****ing baker to sell this 6 top?”

    • Greg McGuire February 28, 2011 at 12:39 pm #

      Thanks for solving that one for us!

  10. Some barman March 6, 2011 at 8:32 pm #

    some funny ones i come across at work :

    Chateau Lapompe:way to call tap water among staffmembers “2 chateau lapompe on table 7″usually accompiened by a fair dose of sarcasme:P

    House/table/regular/plain/normal water:way to call tap water among customers as if it was too cheap just to call it tap water…

    Dans le jus: from french with litterally means “in the juice” when you re waaaaay overwhelmed.

  11. shelly March 11, 2011 at 2:29 pm #

    A few more that were left off the list
    Apps- appetizers, as in are my apps up yet?
    Blue Hairs – refers to elderly people
    Baker- baked potato, wheres my baker for this table?
    Starter- same as app, appetizer
    Wait station – area for waitstaff to keep silver, coffee, water, etc adjacent to or in dining room
    Black and Blue- charred on the outside very rare inside “I want that steak black and blue”
    Crumb crushers- children
    Flat Top- griddle

  12. Cassius May 25, 2011 at 8:22 am #

    I worked at IHOP for years as a cook. We did have our own language.
    Here’s some slang I remember.
    Eggs on a plate were called by the “wheelman” to the fry station. For instance:
    A “21 oe” is 2 eggs on one plate over easy. So 31 wrecked is 3 on i scrambled. Ham and eggs poached on toast? “Adam and Eve on a raft and sink ‘em”! (My favorite)
    If a waitress had to come back for the rest of an order she would “drag it”.

    There’s many more that I just can’t remember. :(

    • Greg McGuire May 26, 2011 at 4:20 am #

      Those are some of the best ones I’ve seen, thanks Cassius!

  13. WILLIAM HEITZMAN June 18, 2011 at 6:42 am #

    WHAT DOES “I’LL HAVE A CUP OF COFFEE IN A DIRTY CUP” STAND FOR?

    • Mary-Margaret Swofford June 16, 2014 at 3:57 pm #

      Refill in the original cup instead of a new one. Often asked for if a customer used a lot of sugar that wasn’t completely dissolved.

  14. Mike downs June 29, 2011 at 9:33 am #

    Graveyard – when you have a bunch of food dying in the window due to servers not picking it up. “it’s a graveyard up here!! Will someone pick this up”

    Down – if I need to get in a cabinet or drawer under you I’d say down and the person would move out of the way.

  15. Jen July 24, 2011 at 6:01 pm #

    Top: also refers to how many customers a table can seat. “I can’t believe you sat a double at my 6 top instead of the bar”

    On tether: refers to customers/parties who are waiting to be seated, esp. those given a pager “Turn that table now, we’ve got 8 on tether”

    Screamer: a crying infant or unruly child in the dining room — usually in conjunction with a expedite plea “Screamer on 5 – Rail It Yesterday!”, sometimes an obnoxious/complaining adult

    Ghost: a member of a party who hasn’t arrived yet “Hold table 7, we got a ghost”

    Kiss: roughly “a little” — kiss the fire (ultra-rare, or lightly warmed), kiss the sea (barely salted)

    A Precious: a very finicky, difficult or demanding diner; someone who sends everything back or expects a comp

    Donkey: lowest person in the kitchen, particularly a cook, who ends up doing the all the scut work for the other cooks on the line — the beast of burden

  16. Tom September 5, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    Hands – when chef or expo wants someone to run food out to a table. Drop everything and go to chef or expo when hands is called

  17. Kenny September 8, 2011 at 1:57 pm #

    Pipe Stock: Water for the tap used in-stead of Stock.

  18. LastCall September 12, 2011 at 10:52 am #

    Camel – a customer that drinks a lot of water, requiring the busboy to constantly fill their glasses.

  19. Mel October 15, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    The term for using a product against what’s come in later is “FIFO”. First in, First out”. Being a MS/CS in the military taught me more about food safety then honing my culinary skills but seeing the kitchens of most restaurants/hotels left a somewhat sickening lump in my throat.
    My job on the ship was to feed the crew a nutritious meal and not make them sick. Imagine a whole ship incapacipated by food poisening. Most restaurants I’ve seen could care less about sanitation even in the most upscale hotel kitchens I’ve toured for my culinary degree.. Sad.
    Not to say that I’ve only focused on health. Far be it. I’ve worked for (five) Navy Admiral’s providing catering events for up to 1,000 diginitary’s and VIPs plus several dinner parties and continental receptions.
    I think I’m resigned to being in the Procurment/Distribution area as most “cooks” have shown they are NASTY! Please prove me wrong………….

    • Greg McGuire October 17, 2011 at 3:42 am #

      Hi Mel,

      I can only imagine how important food safety must be on a large military vessel! FIFO is a good term because, as you said, it doesn’t get practiced nearly as often as it should in normal food service.

  20. Marlo November 3, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    “hot behind” someone’s coming behind you with hot pans, dishes, etc. so move out of the way.
    “on your back” don’t move backwards or turn around because you’ll bump into the person behind you that just said “on your back”

  21. Western Sizzlin November 5, 2011 at 3:49 pm #

    If you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean!

  22. BRIAN November 6, 2011 at 10:00 am #

    I cant believe noone said : HEARD – self-explanatory,yes. But said and required as a comeback when posed as a question. Used super frequently,at least where im at
    CORNER / COMIN OUT / BEHIND – again kinda obvious and used super frequent but when u r carrying stuff around lots of moving people carrying stuff u need traffic signals SIR – I wonder if this is a regional thing cuz not alll the restaurants ive ever worked at do this , but alot of people call each other sir alot , presumably started because manners are so important when all these people are really busy and need alot of things from each other please comment

  23. Robin November 30, 2011 at 7:56 pm #

    Full hands in, full hands out.
    If you kill it, refill it.
    Quat, quat strips, sani bucket
    rack – used in dish machine
    tray jack
    ramekin
    sugar caddy, white on right
    togo
    rover – the kitchen person who keeps all the stations full on busy nights.
    Pop / rush – a bunch of guests arrive at the same time.
    pos – computer
    chit sheet, ticket. Did you get your drink? Yes? stab your ticket then.
    book – wait staff order/money holder.
    pocket ticket – an order you forget to put in.
    Bar key – bottle opener
    drop – to give manager big bills mid shift.
    Bump it – to remove an order from cook screen once it is made.
    Window – shelf between cook line and expo.

  24. Robin November 30, 2011 at 8:18 pm #

    Marry – to combine two or more containers.
    Slack / slack out – defrost
    salamander – broiler
    day dots
    store and pour – bar containers w/ long necks
    mat shot – a shot of all the liquid collected in the bar mats at the end of the night!
    Dry well – when the water in the hot well dries up and smells awful.
    Dishers – different sized scoops.
    chloro – bleach

    This was fun! There are so many random words that only service industry know! I love it! Great post!!

  25. Kris December 2, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

    Nice! Some of these might be well-known…I was just thinking of some that haven’t been mentioned yet, or different versions of some.

    Cut – when a server has been cut off from taking tables to do side work and finish the shift.
    Runner, tray runner, two hands (two plates) – someone to take food to a table. “I need a tray runner table 2!” “Two hands table 71!”
    Fire – for us, fire is used mainly for fajitas, to let the cooks know to go ahead and set it up on the hot skillet and make it sizzle so it can go to the table. If we want them to start cooking something, we tell them to drop it.
    High-tops – taller tables, ours are with stools for seats.
    Reggae – haven’t seen this one, maybe it’s just us…reggae means regular setup for anything. “I need a side house salad reggae on the fly!”
    Refire – usually used to ring in something that needs to be remade and quick. Or used if ringing in a pocket check and you need to let the kitchen know that it’s needed fast. “I need that refire burger now!”
    Ring-up – something that needs to be put in the computer so the restaurant can account for it, usually something small like a side of sour cream or extra cheese. “I need a ring-up for that side of bbq”
    Pre-bus – constantly taking empty plates or cups off of a table as they are eating so it doesn’t get cluttered.
    Spot-sweep – quickly sweeping up anything easily seen on the floor. Not a detailed sweep.

  26. Edward December 4, 2011 at 3:06 pm #

    Tit-up on a raft=two eggs over easy and bacon

  27. Steve December 19, 2011 at 8:11 pm #

    How fun!
    A couple of additions, It has been a WHILE since I worked in this industry, but I visit many restaurants Many of them ‘regularly’

    First is the funniest….

    -Crop Dusting- Intentionally passing gas, while walking past a table at the front of house, so as to discourage a customers’ patronage

    -Regular- a person or person that visits the joint several times a week or month (may even prefer a specific seat), knows employees by name, many times managers will even stop by for a sit. MAY receive preferential treatment, or, the complete opposite…see redneck, perhaps related to, or expects…other times, an owners greatest asset. See ‘Kitty, cat, big dog’

    -Stiff- somebody that didnt pay their check or tip their server.

    -Cat, kitty, or ‘big dog’- In reference to ‘fat cat’, a customer that traditionally OVER tips, never sends anything back, and is more there for the ‘social’ aspect of perhaps flirting with the 20 years junior server. This works BOTH SEXES. These customers typically are not concerned that they put you in the weeds

    -Rug Rat- small child that is going to make a MESS of the table

    -Curtain Crawler- a slightly older child, that runs amok around the joint irritating and annoying other customers. ALWAYS accompanied by the:

    -Daycare provider- A customer that ALLOWS the curtain crawler to run amok, could even be a parent, completely aloof that their little kid just crawled under your table in an attempt to obtain a previously dropped crayon, or sugar packet, or a discarded crouton.

    -Scammer- A customer that eats most of their plate, then requests ‘the manager’, to complain about the food, the service, etc. in an attempt to obtain a ‘comp’. See ‘Screamer’

    -Dish Pig- the poor, unfortunate soul that washes and sterilizes dishes and cookware.

    -Deep Six- Requesting the dish pig to double wash in extra hot water, perhaps two or three times, a cooking or eating utensil that went dry on the line, or sat in a dish tub too long, and has the crusties, or, worst of all, went into the walk-in and was forgotten. The manager has to put that to:…

    -Sod- That pan of chili sat in the walk in for so long, it went to sod, as in ‘grew hair’, molded, and not only the product in it, but the container must be discarded.

    -Spoilage- food product that must be discarded due to excessive time on the line, in the walk in, temperature or ‘misfire’.

    -Funkified- The smell of ones shoes, when worn multiple shifts in this industry, that becomes so severe that one can not wear them in a ‘non-restaurant’ environment without fear that you are not the only person that can smell them. May ALSO apply to any part of a ‘uniform’ item that is not regularly cleaned or cleanable.

    -Misfire (shooting blanks)- an item of food that the cook/chef usually admittedly discards, having incorrectly applied temperature or timing…must apply to ‘spoilage’.

    -Afterburner-Somewhat dual meaning. The most elastic part of a custard or any egg mixture that ‘strings out’ while whipping and remains in the bowl, OR, the more popular, the little morsels that ‘fell off’ the most premium food items. That super crunch french fry that stuck in the basket for 3 rounds.

    -Clam dip- A person in authority, that is attempting to, or successfully IS, sleeping with an employee on the basis that they will fire them if they dont. UGH

    -Princess/Prince- the female or male that is subject of the ‘clam dip’, that obtains best shifts based on clam dip

    -Short- When the amount of money taken in at the close of drawer by ticket, does not match the money in ones till. Often times a result of being in the weeds, and neglecting to run a card, or over-pouring at the bar

    -Shift Drink- The comp expected from the manager when one is ‘off shift’, and usually relegated to some unseen portion of the room.

    -Family Meal- Occurs ‘after close’, When ManagementOwners Chefs/cooks, bartenders, servers, dish pigs, bussers, illegals, everybody involved, maybe switches rolls, but all bets are off for who goes where and does what. Free for all, followed by much conversation, usually awesome food, perhaps a hook up or two, and MUCH bitching and conversation about this industry that some of us take as a job, many of us ADORE ;-)

    Ones that I would like to know: I cant remember, or deserve names:

    -That ONE trash can, that stays out of sight, hopefully outside, but there is another on the line usually less severe, that all of the ‘spoilage’ goes into. Dish Pig usually will not even touch. This is the rottenest of the rotten, the fly breeder, the absolute worst, where one thinks they may need some sort of decontamination treatment or perhaps a chemo session if even come within 5 feet of. That deserves a name

    -The rat bastard server that knows they are 6 back in an ‘all day’, and pulls your plate out of the window and drops it, plays dumb that they thought their ticket was up. He/She deserves a title

    -The server or other employee that turns into a ‘regular’, creeepy!

    -Customers or co-workers that spend WAY too much time in the restroom. ‘Nuff said

    -I would call this ‘Scalper’, but any employee that gives extra servings, overly large portions, doubles in the place of singles, etc.on a regular basis, in hopes of a larger tip…May also be subject of, or an instigator of, a clam dip and gets away with it

    Thanks for this random page. I have enjoyed a laugh or two.

    -Steve

    • Greg McGuire December 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

      WOW – a HUGE addition to the list – thanks Steve!

    • Mary-Margaret Swofford June 16, 2014 at 4:05 pm #

      Re: the person who spends too much time in the restroom, or a diner who just won’t leave when there are others waiting – is a “camper”.

      Fly-by – what you do to a “camper” by repeatedly dropping by the table/restroom to ask if there is anything else they need or if they are okay.

  28. Brodie December 20, 2011 at 12:53 am #

    An asst manager from houston who would work expo on the servers side would call out,”I need a one-handed runner”. Meaning a server walking by the window could run food even if one of their hands were full because it was such a small carry…

    “make me a hero” used by expediters to notify to the cooks that all they need to sell this ticket is one last item. so if all they needed to complete the order was a med rare steak the expediter might yell out,” filet med rare makes me a hero”

    ” I need a re-plate”.

    “split 3-ways”-when a table orders one entree and gets it split on three plates…really.

    “papas”- spanish for potatoes. used instead of “mashed potatoes”. I need a side of “papas.”

    “push 88″- I’m sure this one is specific to my restaurant but other restaurants probably have their own version of the same. In a restaurant with an “open, exhibition kitchen” where the kitchen is exposed to the dining room and cooks can see all the customers, and a beautiful lady walks by, a fellow cook might yell out,” PUSH 88″ and this is to call attention to the front to make sure all the kitchen gets a fair chance to see.

    • Greg McGuire December 20, 2011 at 5:29 am #

      I like Push 88 – never heard that one before!

      • Jakob January 22, 2014 at 6:32 pm #

        Love push 88 too! – – we called them “dollar bob’s”

        “Got a dollar Bob!”

  29. Peter Psyllos December 25, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Working a “dv” shift; declining volume, when it gets slow the person gets cut.
    “Monday’s”- a table of undesirable customers ( everybody hates Monday ‘s, back to work day)
    A “top chef”- a customer that thinks they are a chef because they watch a lot of the food network.
    “daddy” or “mommy” – the restaurant owner that you like ( daddy needs a filet medrare on the fly)

    That’s all I can think of right now, had a long shift! Can’t remember the term we used when you had to substitute something because of a mistake, was it system 7?

  30. Amanda January 25, 2012 at 2:40 pm #

    Does anyone know what a 131 is? I don’t!!! LOL!!

  31. Jason January 26, 2012 at 8:09 am #

    Tax it….Tax it refers to taking and eating a small piece of food from a customers order, when it is in the window, before being delivered to the customer.

    Ex. Clam strips for tbl 14 are up. Hang on, before you run that, I’m gonna tax it.

  32. Devin January 30, 2012 at 12:07 am #

    Well (noun)- Containers filled with ice used in drinks doubling to cool the drinks used for the guns through heat transferring metal

    Gun (noun)- A spray nozzle connected with a hose supplying coke, diet coke, tonic, soda, ginger ale etc..

    Burn the Well (Verb)- To pour hot water into the well melting the ice in order to clean it. Usually done after accidentally breaking a glass over it.

    Tickets (noun) the receipt of someones order

    The Rail (noun) A metal rail in the Kitchen on the service line to slip in tickets that are or will be cooked to give the full kitchen view of the order. Always place in order of tickets received from left to right. ( To Rail- to move a new ticket the furthest left on the rail thus increasing its priority)

    Turning/Flipping Tickets (Verb)- To turn the latest tickets on the rail around to the blank side so as to stay organized and worry about current orders intending to turn them back when caught up to the order influx.

    Modifier (noun) A person or an order with a special request to change/remove/or add an item to a dish contrary to how it is sold on the menu.

    Auto-Grad (Noun)- Automatic Gratuity added to tickets of parties of eight or more that are required to be only one check for the ease of the restaurant of always 18%. Can be removed if the server feels his table would be willing to tip more. (mostly used on large parties of foreigners).

    • Jay November 3, 2013 at 10:37 pm #

      It seems to me some of your lingo quoted are the names of attributes in the tickets database, of which your tickets are merely the forms. Just coming from an IT guy, but some nerd made those terms (Auto-Grad, Modifier), and I probably wouldn’t consider these restaurant industry standard, more IT standard for naming practices, and even then it is more of a best practice as oppose to an exact standard.

      Did somebody already cover Bat Wings? The Goat?
      Haha

  33. Anthony January 30, 2012 at 2:08 pm #

    We use a term, and yes, it is gauche, ‘Canadian’ for tables that, at sight, one can tell will either stiff or drop two dollars.

    Servers, I need not say more.

  34. patty February 1, 2012 at 4:45 pm #

    what is gooseneck and what is tray-jack?
    Thanks for your help

  35. Goyo February 7, 2012 at 8:13 pm #

    I’m from the northern regions, and the term ‘Canadian’ is well-known indeed. Here’s another:

    Phase (verb): to be be sent home before the end of a scheduled shift, as in “It was slow last night, so Sheila phased me at eight”.

  36. Vick March 5, 2012 at 12:09 pm #

    @ patty, a gooseneck is a type of ramekin that loosely resembles a goose and is about the size of two smaller ramekins.

    Here’s one i haven’t seen listed above:
    Torch: noun: blow torch used for creme brulee’s and other finishing touches on desserts to caramelize sugars

  37. JIm July 11, 2012 at 6:23 am #

    Haven’t seen this one…

    “Corner” – Used to help servers and kitchen staff navigate when walking around blind corners.

  38. Restaurant supply gal July 16, 2012 at 3:38 am #

    After working in the restaurant business for nearly 15 years, I was surprised to see some on the list I had never heard of :)

    • Greg McGuire July 16, 2012 at 10:09 am #

      Ha ha nice! Any that should be added that you don’t see here?

  39. Dr.Garfield July 17, 2012 at 7:26 pm #

    Here are some i haven’t seen yet:

    911: the same as “on the fly”, I prefer on the fly myself but my current kitchen uses 911.

    Jacked: I term my kitchen uses for when a server takes a plate or side for their own table when it belonged to someone else.

    Roll/rolling: to continue to make multiple of one item until point/wheel says to stop. ie “roll hash (hashbrowns) and cakes (pancakes)”. usually done when you have more orders for that item then will fit in it’s designated cooking space/area on the grill or it would be more effort to count the all day then it’s worth. Only done with low cost items (cakes, hash, etc) or ones that get used often (bacon and sausage in a breakfast joint).

    Single sell: a single order ticket. ie “I need 2 cakes for a single sell”. Usually only used when there are several bills and cooks are desperate to sell at least one even if it means selling out of order.

    Clears/cleared the Rail: Selling all the tickets currently on the rail. ie “That salad clears the rail” or cheering “cleared it” when the last bill is sold after a rush.

    White out: When there are so many tickets on the rail that there is no/little space for any more. The rail is white with bills. ie “we had a white out for at least an hour tonight”. The rail in the kitchen I’m currently working in is 9ft long just in case you were curious.

    Stacked bills: A white out plus bills stacked on top of each other at the end of the rail that haven’t even been called/looked at. ie “it was so bad we were stacking bills”, or when a server asks about a particular table and the wheel responds, “i don’t see a ticket for table 38, it must be in the stack. You’ll have to wait (unless it’s a single sell, then we’ll pull it out)”.

    Working: When an order comes with something or to describe mods. ie “that burger is working spicy fries and no onions”.

    Covered: To add cheese to something. ie “cover that hash/fries/pattie”.

    2 and 2: Used in breakfast joints. Refers to 2 bacon and 2 sausage. ie “That order is working 2 and 2 and hash”.

    Terms I’d like to know:

    When a server rings in multiply bills all at once for no good reason other then pure laziness.

    • Greg McGuire July 18, 2012 at 4:53 am #

      Wow, thanks for your contribution Dr. Garfield!

    • Mary-Margaret Swofford June 16, 2014 at 4:12 pm #

      Stacked – multiple tickets delivered to the kitchen all at once that usually put the kitchen in the weeds and get the server phased.

  40. dj waters September 5, 2012 at 4:03 pm #

    Lake Erie highball – customer ordered a glass of water

    • Molly Patterson September 6, 2012 at 9:35 am #

      Thanks DJ! Haven’t heard that one yet!

    • JDGiants July 27, 2014 at 6:59 pm #

      Double- (Triple-) drop

  41. jason rethage September 30, 2012 at 8:24 pm #

    Reggae…the regular way

  42. autumn October 28, 2012 at 3:05 pm #

    wearing: the side “what is that burger wearing?” “fries”

    straight up: exactly as it comes on the menu “they want that straight up”

    fish is swimming: the fish is in the fryer

    time: “what is your time?” amount of time since your oldest ticket was ordered

    O rings: onion rings

    cheesing it: putting the cheese on, this is the final step so it means its basically ready “How much longer on that sandwich?” “I’m cheesing it”

    • Molly Patterson October 29, 2012 at 11:23 am #

      These are great terms to add to the list! I especially like “Cheesing it”. Thank you Autumn!

  43. gina December 8, 2012 at 8:03 pm #

    Our variation of the push 88 is 80 up. Used to call attention to the very attractive but sometimes used for the very unattractive as well . Canadians for the customers nobody wants because not only will they complain but you will get $2 tip no matter what. Snowed is like in the weeds.

  44. Mercedes December 14, 2012 at 12:12 pm #

    Hi,

    I’m translating something from French about a guy’s experiences observing the action in a French kitchen. In French there’s a term “le coup de feu” for when the kitchen is in full-swing, cooking during a meal service (as opposed to prep time, before the service begins). The term basically suggests that the kitchen is under fire (high pressure), but also of course they’re “firing” the food. Is there any term for this in English? How do you describe a kitchen that’s in full swing?

    Thanks,
    Mercedes

    • TommyCee December 18, 2012 at 7:03 pm #

      Not sure there is a definite term I’ve heard, but when a kitchen is moving smoothly but very fast (not in the weeds) we would sometimes say “kicking” or less common “moving”.. Not sure if that helps.

    • Savannah December 30, 2012 at 11:59 pm #

      In our kitchen, we said “Rolling”, used interchangeably with “Rolling” when food was incessantly fired.
      comeback: “Does Rock and roll raise VD?”
      “Working out” has the same meaning.
      The values of “hands,” “HEARD,” “on your back,” “moving on your left/right,” “and “behind” were unsurpassed in any ofther form of safety or manners and spoken loud and clear.

      HEARD means you drop what you’re doing and begin the new action.
      Chef: Savannah, get me a sixth pan, heard?
      Savannah: Heard, sixth *gets sixth pan*

      Often, Chef would ask for the “news/story” or “where you were at.” At this time you had to mention what proteins were “down/dropped and for what table.

      If you wanted to smoke or use the bathroom, we would say “I’ve got to pet my dog (outside/in the bathroom)”. Just so the mates would know where you were, but not what you were doing.
      “Toss it” was common to toss out food.
      “Spec ass” were our specials and written on the board.
      “Breakdown” was when BOH opened their PBRs and began washing/covering everything. This took place for nearly an hour preceding “pulling the plug”, which was the order FOH Manager gave when there were no “open menus” and the shift was over.
      “busting suds” was the fun loving title for the back breaking job of scrubbing pots and plates.
      “Haus money” was the term for our house mother sauces.

      • Savannah December 31, 2012 at 12:00 am #

        I meant, “rocking” and “rolling” were used interchangeably**

      • Mary-Margaret Swofford June 16, 2014 at 4:16 pm #

        Step out – I respectfully announce and request permission to go to the rest room for an urgent bodily need, “Steppin’ out, Chef, K?”

  45. TommyCee December 18, 2012 at 7:00 pm #

    I’m a cook myself, and these are some back of the house lingo I’ve used or heard that I think are common.. I apologize if somebody has already posted these..

    Yesterday: Touched on in the glossary but equally as used as “on the fly”. Ex. “Table 2 has been waiting for 20 mins, I need their apps yesterday.”

    Heard!: Another way of saying “yes” or “okay”. Ex. Sous chef: “Fire table 4!”, all concerned stations: “Heard!”

    Split: When upscale restaurants have separate lunch and dinner service, and the dining room is closed between them. Working half of the lunch and dinner service. Such as 12pm-7pm.. The hours arent bad, but you are not genuinely needed for service and this shift is usually accompanied by oven scrubbing and potato peeling, and was used as a punishment in restaurants I’ve worked.

    Hands!: A cook or chef would yell “Hands!” to signify a tables order was in the window, and that any available server should take it out.

    Mess Up: A server will discreetly ask a cook to “mess up” a certain dish so that they may eat it. As in purposely make a mistake on a dish and then give to server to eat (idea being, it’s gonna be thrown away, someone might as well eat it) Ex. Server: “I just put in a burger for table 12, mess one up for me?”

    Hot Plate: This was a technique either used as a joke or to be a real a**hole to a server that you don’t like.. Generally a cook’s hands are very accustomed to hot things, the trick is to hold a very hot plate in the window and hand it directly to a server. Most of the time a server knows to check how hot a plate is (especially ones that were dying [in the window]) but when handed from bare hand to bare hand one expects it not to be hot. The surprise comes when they grab it.

    Par or Par Cook: When a very large party has made a reservation, they are sometimes only offered a few key items from the menu (because of their size, almost like ckicken or fish at a wedding reception). Certain foods can be partly cooked beforehand and finished when the party arrives, saving time all around.

    S&P: Obviously salt and pepper, but usually refers to the house seasoning that sits in an eighth pan by the grill, even if it involves other seasonings, that is sprinkled on each meat item.

    Working: The opposite of all day, if the sous chef asks the grill cook how many filets he has, the working number is the amount on the grill or in the oven, actually cooking, all day means total.

    Staff Meal or Shift Meal: The big dinner or lunch made before the start of service for all restaurant staff.

    Mazel Tov!: Something staff yells when a server drops a plate(s) or glass(es).. It’s well worth noting that this is an exciting time for the back of the house, as the server who broke the item is mercilessly ridiculed.. And new servers always fall for the “that comes outta your check” trick..

    On The Books: The people that have made a reservation are “on the books”, a chef will sometimes ask the host how many are on the books tonight so as to get an idea of how much to prep their station.

    Below!: Alot like “Hot” “Behind” and “Hot Behind”, you yell this when you’re going into a cabinet cooler, so nobody turns around into you and drops anything.

    Pantry: Any area where the dry storage is, usually where pasta and canned goods are.

    This next bit isn’t lingo but are some of the funny things we say to other new cooks, almost like a form of hazing..

    When a restaurant has more than one kitchen, a chef or other cook will ask a new guy to go and retrieve ridiculous items, and laugh when they have trouble finding them (because they don’t exist).. Three good ones: A can of steam, a left handed knife and stuffed peas.

    All I got for now, I’ll add more as I think of them.

    • TommyCee December 18, 2012 at 7:24 pm #

      Also worth noting.. “Yesterday” and “on the fly” mean the same thing, but imply different things. A server will ask a cook for an item on the fly when they forgot to enter it on the ticket and need it immediately to sell their table. If you need something yesterday it’s usually because someone on the line is in the weeds, holding up a table.

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  47. Dave January 18, 2013 at 7:54 pm #

    Here’s one:
    Musco Soup -(as a soup of the day) Because some stuff in the Walk- In cooler “must go”

  48. rilettes January 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm #

    Rim Job- to wipe a dishes rims after plating

    • Molly Patterson February 1, 2013 at 8:43 am #

      Awesome! Thanks, Rilettes. Rim Job definitely makes the list.

  49. Elizabeth February 19, 2013 at 10:45 pm #

    Echo – Like heard, a way of letting someone know you heard them.

    FIFO – First in, first out. The proper order in which to use product.

    Count – To put a special on a count before 86ing it.

    Fire and forget – An item that you can start and forget about until it’s done.

    Walking in/ On the new – What someone on expo will say when a new ticket comes in and there are already several on the board.

    Board – The place where you put the tickets. ex: “Hot side just got slammed, they have 7 tickets on the board”

    The Sampler – Used when a table orders one of everything. ex: “They got the egg sampler: an order of poached, an order of over easy, an order of over hard, an order of over medium and a two scram.”

  50. Butch February 23, 2013 at 8:28 am #

    I’m a foodie. But I know the difference between than and then.

  51. Shannon March 24, 2013 at 10:18 pm #

    Speed well/rail-the area right in front of the bartender and their ice well that holds the most common liquors to make the most common drinks.

    Speed bottle-usually a plastic bottle with a screw on/off neck and a fairly wide opening used for juices, sour mix, or whatever a bartender may need for a mixer.

    Mixer-a juice, soda, or any liquid addition to a liquor(s) to make a drink.

    On the rocks-with ice

    Straight up-without ice

    Neat-poured straight out of the bottle into guests glass. (Usually used for scotch, whiskey, cognac, etc.)

    Melted-a cocktail that’s been waiting for the server to delivery it for so long the ice is melted.

    (Sorry if any of these are repeats!)

  52. Jeff April 21, 2013 at 1:46 pm #

    Hammered – see Killed
    Nya Nya – overcooked pasta turns to “nya nya”

    • Molly Patterson April 22, 2013 at 7:14 am #

      Thanks for your input, Jeff! I used the term hammered all the time when I use to bar tend – great addition! Nya Nya is a new one – love it!

  53. Charlie May 3, 2013 at 9:08 pm #

    These are great!Love it. Some funny ones too.

    Here are some i use or have heard used!

    Las Vegas baby: When something falls on the floor in the kitchen, gets wiped off and cooked. : That’s Las Vegas baby put it up! (what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.)

    Give it to Chef Mike: Put something in the microwave.

    On Deck: Food waiting to be fired.

    Downtown: Food is in the oven

    Late bloomers/Late comers: Those guests who ALWAYS come in 5 minutes before closing.

    Table Hop: When a lazy servers takes orders from two or more tables then slams the kitchen with all the orders at once, appetizers and all.

    Dupes: tickets that come into the kitchen or the tickets that are hand written.

    Mise en Plac: A cooks condiments for everything he/she will be cooking for the night. (salt, pepper, onions, butter, etc)

    Single out: When the rail is full and a single top comes through get it done out of order. “fire the single out”

    BAMFIC: Big Bad A Mother F***** In Charge. Refers to the Head Chef or The Boss!

    Buzz number … : refers to the paging system for the servers when their food is up.

    All hands on deck: When multiple tables are in the window dying (graveyard) everyone comes and get their food out of the window.

    Border Patrol: When a line cooks crosses over to another cooks station and gets in the way.

    Holding Tables: When the kitchen is in the weeds holding guests in the waiting room until the kitchen can catch up (even if there are open tables.)

    Ticket in the window: If a dupe (ticket) prints and the expo/chef does not see it or forgets to pull it. “Ticket in the window chef”

    Priority: Same as “on the fly” takes precedents over all other tickets. Used if a plate gets sent back for refire. “How is my priority for table 21 coming?”

    STAT: Right Now : i need my appetizer STAT!”

    Seagulls/Vultures: Servers who swarm the plate being put up for sampling for the nights specials.

    That is all i can think of right now. Its late a gotta open and work a double tomorrow! Thanks.

    • Molly Patterson May 4, 2013 at 9:05 am #

      Charlie, these are great! You practically doubled the list.

      “Las Vegas Baby” makes me cringe (Ew), “Give it to Chef Mike” is comical and there are always some “vultures” in the kitchen. I love them all!

  54. Sara May 11, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    -restaurant manager for over 10 years-

    CUT THE FLOOR- to send servers home when it gets slow, see Cut or Phase

    THROW TICKETS- when the Expo Cook throws the ticket through the Window so servers can Stab the Ticket when they pick up their food out of the Window. Used in restaurants that have a large window.

    RUNNER- a server or buser who follows the server out with large orders of food

    STAB & GRAB- when servers stab their tickets and snatch their food up in a hurry to get it out to the customers.

    CORNER or RIGHT BEHIND- used by servers to let others know they are in close proximity of another person (usually with a tray of food or drinks) so they don’t run into each other and knock the food/drinks onto the floor.

    SECTION- another name for station or the area/tables a server waits on

    ROLL SILVER- when servers roll silverware up into napkins to be used later/next day as place-settings.

    SKIPPER- a server who skips out on their sidework or rolling silverware, see Skate or Skater

    PACKED HOUSE- tables are full and there is usually a full waiting area of customers, can be used with In The Weeds or Slammed.

    BABIES- a derogatory name for Host/Hostesses used by Servers when a Host/Hostess is whining about having a Packed House. “The babies are complaining again that they need tables”.

    IN HIDING- used by staff when the Manager or PIC (person-in-charge) is holed up in the back office, usually with the door locked. “Where’s the manager?” -“Frank’s in hiding”.

    CASH OUT- when servers/bartender cashes out their drawer and has the manager check their “turn-in amount” of cash/credit slips at the end of their shift. Can also be used in reference of bringing/dropping a check on a table for customers to pay.

    PUNCH IT- when servers/bartenders put their order into the POS system so the ticket will print in the kitchen.

    END-OF-DAY- the closing procedures performed by Managers or Shift Leads that include processing credit cards, counting the money, printing sales reports, and making sure the restaurant is clean, everything is off, and locked up.

    • Molly Patterson May 13, 2013 at 8:09 am #

      Wow, these are all great and new to me! Thanks for sharing, Sara.

  55. Morgan Sky May 14, 2013 at 1:50 pm #

    I’ve been trying to remember a term we used for the cover used on dinner plates. We covered the plates for two reasons. #1. to keep the food from cooling off while we went from kitchen to table and #2. in order to stack the plates 2 or 3 plates high on the tray. I cannot remember what these covers are called. Some were metal and some were a fiberglass type of material. All had a hole in the top to make it easy to lift them off the plate. Anybody?

    • Mary-Margaret Swofford June 16, 2014 at 4:19 pm #

      I think you are referring to a “cloche”.

  56. Bill Wendt June 23, 2013 at 7:35 pm #

    Drive-by. When an attractive person is seated you may hear, “You need to do a drive by on table 21″

  57. John October 8, 2013 at 7:53 pm #

    Open menu count- the number of guests that still have their menus, and are waiting to order.
    “Can I get an open menu count, please.”
    “You have 18 open.”

  58. John October 8, 2013 at 8:17 pm #

    Prio: short for priority order. It is an order that has been sent out, but was returned by the guest (ie. Food cold, steak cooked incorrectly). You drop what you are doing, and you cook the prio. Typically, the manager will run a prio back to the table. Comps usually result.

  59. Steve October 17, 2013 at 3:40 pm #

    What does one call a really good return (loyal) customer? One that always asks for the same server, is social but doesn’t overburden the staff, and leaves a good tip? Anyone have a slang word describing this ?

    • Kelly October 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

      A regular

  60. Kelly October 19, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Grat- to add gratuity(the tip) to a large group that is dining together. At most restaurants it is automatic with tables of 6 or 8 and over. Always check the menu or ask a server before you order so that you don’t get mad at us in the end! “Table 21 is a large party, I need to grat them.”

    Rotation- the order in which the host seats the tables. “Sorry, I know you were next but I had to skip rotation because they wanted to sit over there!”

    Runner- the person who brings the food from the kitchen to the table. “I need runners now!”

    Buss/pre buss- to remove empty glasses, finished plates, dirty napkins, wrappers, ect from table. Preferably before asked too and before guests get up to leave.

  61. dude December 11, 2013 at 11:10 am #

    “Balls on the side” – balsamic vinaigrette on the side

    “(name of a cook) style”… no nuts
    ex: expeditor says
    Pick up a salad du jour “Ryan style” …. pick up a salad du jour “no nuts”

  62. Arsi December 30, 2013 at 10:51 pm #

    A comment about “slammed,” I was always under the impression that restaurants get slammed, while people get weeded.

  63. Kim January 8, 2014 at 4:45 am #

    I’ve never heard ‘in the weeds before’, it’s a cracker. Also, ‘dish pig’……..see ‘bubble dancer’ (also new to me, kinder than a ‘dishie’ or the aforementioned ‘dish pig’.

    • Chef Corey April 17, 2014 at 11:16 am #

      I have always used “in the weeds”

  64. carl parrott February 11, 2014 at 12:36 pm #

    Military slang for dishwasher: Pot walloper

    • JDGiants July 27, 2014 at 7:14 pm #

      DMO – Dish Machine Operator

  65. Chef Corey April 17, 2014 at 11:14 am #

    BUTCHER: Someone that mangles or desrtoys a dish or food product. XD ie: Dude what did you do to that steak, you”Butcher”

  66. Leslie July 8, 2014 at 2:43 pm #

    Crop-Dusting: Lifting an ‘air-biscuit’ in the dining room and walking it off until you’ve eliminated the odor from your wake.

  67. Charlie August 1, 2014 at 9:30 am #

    Glutard: one of the droves of people who ask for gluten free substitutions even though they don’t have a gluten allergy

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mark Moreno - May 6, 2011

    #foodsho A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms: A
        * All Day – the total amount.  … http://bit.ly/iCJgq7 via @thebackburner

  2. Greg McGuire - May 6, 2011

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  3. Tundra Specialties - May 6, 2011

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  4. HATI Solutions - May 6, 2011

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  5. Interesting Industry News Around The Web ~ Week 7 « schedappy - May 7, 2011

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  6. HRM - May 25, 2011

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  7. david breen - May 25, 2011

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  8. Bartender's Guide to Pronunciations - September 8, 2011

    [...] Front of the House– The front end of the restaurant (the dining room and bar – where the customers are served and wait staff, bartenders, bussers and dining room managers primarily work) Read more [...]

  9. Nicole Kato - December 28, 2011

    http://t.co/qfvdmGxG <– this website is too funny. restaurant slang.

  10. Joe Cascio - February 27, 2012

    @forfeng Hi Heather. Was educating myself on restaurant lingo and this article you wrote popped up high on Google. http://t.co/FmChg5Tt Thx!

  11. Greg McGuire - March 20, 2012

    A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms http://t.co/LN1jtoR6

  12. Heather Turner - March 20, 2012

    RT @thebackburner: A Glossary of Restaurant Lingo, Slang & Terms http://t.co/aZu5bMmd

  13. Brush Up on Your Science-Speak for the Holidays | The Green Grok - August 3, 2012

    [...] you’re eavesdropping on a discussion among grifters. But the speaker may be a restaurateur using restaurant lingo to refer to the order info given to the cook so that the food can be [...]

  14. Food Lingo – Chef Berry - April 24, 2013

    [...] See the blog here. [...]

  15. How to Subtly Drive Negroes Away From Your Restaurant | Hipster Racist - May 26, 2013

    [...] will assume restaurant lingo is just the local jargon, but blacks will assume it’s a secret racist code. When whites hear [...]

  16. Get Some Rest: The Launch of RestWants | RestWants - July 29, 2014

    […] colleagues can attest that, as far as serving or bartending goes, most things are pretty standard: the lingo , the hours, common practices – and especially the […]

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