Have you ever wanted to know what the restaurant language everyone speaking means? You are in the right place as we cover 20 of the most popular restaurant slang terms.
The culinary world, like any other industry, has developed its own slang over the years.
Now, if you are a part of the restaurant business or merely a frequent diner, it is good to know the industry slang terms to not feel like a bewildered outsider. In other words, you have to talk the talk to integrate into the industry and communicate efficiently with your colleagues and friends in the business.
This guide will help you nail some of the hospitality vocabulary terms, and also give you examples for each slang so you can go out there and use it right.
Read on to get acquainted with the must know restaurant terms.
Table of Contents
Mise en Place/Mise
A French term that means “everything is in place” or “putting in place.” Mise is the shorthand of the phrase and refers to the prepped ingredient ready to go into your dish.
This concept is used about a back of the house member getting their station in order but could also expand to the rest of the restaurant or back office. It is a moderately grandiose term that approximately translates to “having everything prepped in advance.”
Example: Isn’t it time you got your station mise en place chef? The dinner rush starts anytime now.
Example: Is your mise good to go? The customer needs the souffle stat.
In the Weeds
It describes a situation where the front of the house or back of the house staff is overwhelmed by the customer’s orders. Another use of the word is weeded. This situation often happens when a server is being double or triple sat or simply has a large section.
This term has now been popularized and is used when someone is referencing a large workload or being behind on your deliverables.
Example: Our waiter was so deep in the weeds that we waited 45 minutes for our drinks.
First in first out. It refers to the prepared items in the kitchen. Understandably, you would always want to use the ingredients prepared first as before the ingredients you prepared later.
This term could also refer to running food, where you want the dishes made first served to the guest first.
Example: Use the salad dressing in the walk-in first, remember we FIFO here at RestaurantAccounting.net.
À La Minute
It refers to something prepared to order and not part of something that was prepared in advance. In today’s culinary world, lots of dish components are made in advance
However, certain items are made a la minute, which is French for “to the minute.”
Example: One might sear off your steak, deglaze the pan and make a quick sauce to serve with it.
An item that cannot be served anymore due to it being cold, overcooked, or forgotten by the wait staff.
The chefs and kitchen managers should always strive for perfection, and many times, especially in the higher-end dining kitchens, even the smallest error leads to dead plates.
Example: Forget about those files, they sat in the window too long, are overcooked, and are now dead plates.
On the Fly
When a task needs to be completed immediately and swiftly, that is on the fly. It means this order should take precedence over existing orders already in process. Sometimes this could also mean fixing an order mid-process to correct for customer needs (think taking a steak from raw to a medium temperature).
This on the fly concept is often the case in many restaurants, for instance, when the dishes or courses are complicated and have many variations.
Example: The guests are complaining about slow service, I need these appetizers on the fly.
Commonly a misunderstood term. In restaurant lingo, it means sauce on the side. Many customers demand that the sauce is not on their dish as they like to allocate the distribution of the sauce, so they want their SOS.
It could also apply when the chef suspects that the dish will be served after a while. The sauce can make the dish soggy – then he or she suggests SOS for their items.
Example: How many times can I teach you the plate arrangement, it is linguini with SOS!
When you need to give the customer a dish for free, it is comped. When they want to make the guests happy, making up for the delay or a mistake, restaurants usually comp some or all of a dish.
Example: Why did that customer get their appetizer after they finished their entrees? This is the third dish we need to comp because the frier is on the fritz!
To make up for the shortage of some ingredients. It is the concept of extending the ingredients.
For example, we are almost out of maple syrup, stretch it until the end of brunch. It is a pretty common scenario in restaurants, especially for seasonal or exclusive ingredients.
Example: We are short of saffran, but I can stretch it for this order only
Essentially, GDB stands for Golden Brown Delicious (popularly used for fried food).
This is a term that is used when there is little time or desire to give a more in-depth description.
Example: The customers are snacking on the fries served with the burgers, they are perfectly GBD!
It is a term used for a well-cooked frozen hamburger patty. The net result tends to be tough and blackened by the grill.
I would risk a guess that it originated from the dual purpose of the destroyed patty, any hockey fans out there?
Example: We don’t serve Hockey Pucks here, through that out and make another batch.
This is a term used by the customers as well; it means when the customers want a dish covered in extra sauce. Doesn’t everyone love that extra cheese sauce or ranch after all?
Example: I know this is an odd request, but could you douse my asparagus with the hollandaise?
Turn and Burn
This terminology is about when you need to clean up and arrange the table quickly for the next guests. Not an uncommon scenario in restaurants with high volume.
We have to turn and burn them to reach our daily goal of 500 customers! It is a very commonly used term.
Example: We have 50 tables on the waitlist for the outside section, we need to turn and burn them quickly.
When some of the tables and stools are taller than average, usually around the bar, this is a typical seating arrangement at bars and sports bars.
Example: It is a good Saturday evening, we are fully packed with a waitlist. Let’s see if any of the guests are willing to be served at the high-tops in the bar area.
This is the nickname for a fridge that is located below the counter. A low boy is commonly used to store prepared food.
The kitchen is hopefully well planned and designed to make the processes faster; this is one of those little tricks that ensure the kitchen flows smoothly.
Example: Hurry up with the salads, the dressings in the low boy should help you turn and burn them!
Run the Dish
This is used when you want to bring the dish to the customer. One could say this is just a fancier word for bringing the dish out of the kitchen to the customer. Usually, this is implied to have a sense of urgency.
Example: The waiter for table 22 is busy, could you please run this chicken parmesean to them?
Not quite like it’s literal meaning, all day in restaurants means the total number of a particular dish that needs to be prepared at a time.
This term is usually a back of the house (kitchen) terms used to assess the number of certain dishes that should be in process.
Example – The birthday party has begun, we need 5 crab platters all day.
The terms refer to guests who still are at their table after paying their checks. Understandably, a situation most waitstaff and restaurant owners dislike as it causes challenges as they try to turn and burn the tables!
Example: The summer season is the worst, the campers want to stay all night and take in the views of the ocean!
It is a term used by the servers to alert people who might be walking towards the server with the food, dishes, knives, etc. to avoid everyone running into each other.
Most restaurants are designed well nowadays, but sometimes they still have that dreaded corner, and let your colleagues know you are approaching it guarantees everyone’s safety.
Example: Corner, I am holding a 7 layer chocolate cake!
Food Runner (AKA Runner)
As the name suggests, it is a person who takes the food from the kitchen to the customer tables. You could also just say server, but sometimes, another staff member’s specific role is to take food from the kitchen to the waiter or waitresses table so that they can focus on customer service.
This term is the norm for high volume or high-end restaurant establishments.
Example – Could you call in as a food runner? It looks like we will be packed more than usual tonight.
Many of these terminologies are actually fun to use.
I would love a GBD potato wedge, which is doused in cheese sauce within A La Minute. Fingers crossed that it’s comped for me.
Now that you are familiar with them too try using them the next time you are out to eat or not. Either way, the kitchen madness would probably seem a bit less crazy, or at least you would understand the craze around you.