As with every profession, there is a certain dialect that Chefs/cooks use to communicate effectively with each other whether it is in the heat of service or reminiscing what just happened over cocktails at the end of the night. Being that the Messenger Post is a family friendly publication, I am forced to leave out some of my favorites, and most used slang from this blog, sorry Charlie!
As you can imagine when you have a full dining room on New Year’s Eve and a full bar waiting to be seated, things can become a bit heated so it’s advantageous for everyone to be speaking the same language. Here is a shortlist:
86 or 86’d – refers to running out of something on the menu. Example: "86 the fish fry" or "the fish fry has been 86’d.
All day – a term used to tell a cook how many of a certain dish that has been ordered at that moment. Example: "ordering 2 more Lobster Thermidor, that makes 8 all day"
Hot Behind or Behind Hot – This is one of the more important terms that you will use while working in any kitchen, and no, it isn’t paying homage to their badonkadonk! Whether you are walking behind someone while they are taking a rondeau out of an oven, or you are carrying a pot full of hot grease out for disposal, you need to say "hot behind" or "behind hot" to let them know you are behind them. It is a matter of safety for everyone involved. The same holds true for the wait staff in the dining room.
Fire – this means that it is ok to start preparing a dish that has been already ordered. For example: "I’ve dropped their salads so go ahead and fire table 13."
In the Weeds or Weeded – when this is term is used it means you are getting your butt kicked and no matter how fast you are cooking you continue to fall behind with no end in sight. Another words, it sucks to be in the weeds, or weeded. However when you climb back out of the weeds unscathed, it is a natural high that’s almost addicting, at least for me it is.
Mise en place – defined by my alma mater (and drilled into my head) as "everything in its place" it is also the name of my alumni magazine. It is everything that you need for your station to make it through service e.g. meats, blanched vegetables, garnishes, knives, sanitation bucket, clean rags, etc… Often shortened to mise; "Don’t touch my mise"
On-the-fly – when they say that they need something on-the-fly that means they needed it yesterday.
Top – essentially, a top is a person; ex. "I just sat a 4 top" except when referring to a single or a deuce then they are referred to as just that, a single or a deuce.
Has Wheels – means that it is to go, or when the expeditor says to "put wheels on it" that usually means that someone has waited too long for their food and now they want it to go. When this happens it usually is at lunchtime.
This is just a sampling of the dialect that Chefs and cooks use to maneuver their way through the organized chaos that is the norm in a professional kitchen. To outsiders this dialect may seem trivial, but to people that work in this environment they are crucial.