Kitchen Speak and Chef’s Slang

Have you ever wondered about the terms commonly used in the kitchen? Here’s a brief insight into this world that will have you speaking like a kitchen ‘pro’ in no time. Not all the terms relate to service and food, some are most often used in banter by the chefs and are not generally used offensively.



An item or ingredient that is no longer available for the menu. This term can be used for menu items, dismissed staff and even for customers that are not welcome!
86’d is also starting to be used in some countries as language “ I 86’d the girlfriend/boyfriend”, 86’d is a very versatile term.

6-Top/ 4-Top/ Deuce
This refers to the number of diners on a table, a six top has 6 and a deuce only two.

Ready for service (see Mise), a chef may say to another chef “are you boxed” for this function/ service.

If your plate has a little swirl or squiggles of something on it, that’s bukkake

Check your Plates
In an open kitchen where the staff can see the customers it usually has a term for the sight of an attractive person of either sex. The call of this code word will alert staff to the fact that a man or woman who is very attractive is in the restaurant. Everyone can then come to the pass to “check their plates”, or have a look!

Dying on the Pass
When food has been too long on the pass waiting for the front of house staff to collect and deliver to the customer.

Getting a Push
In a service, work and orders come in ebbs and flows, when the orders come faster and the restaurant busier, the kitchen is “getting a push”.

When the order comes in the chef will call these out, anything on the order that needs to be started now in the order will be answered by “Fire” as the Chef gets the dish in motion ready for going to the pass on time.

Hot Behind
A call made to co-workers that they should stay still while you pass behind them carrying something hot. This helps avoid accidents in a busy and often frantic kitchen during service. Not to be confused with “check your plates”.

In the Weeds
If told you are, or you mutter it to yourself or co- workers it means that you are overwhelmed with orders, behind on your mise, or just not keeping up. If you are in the weeds, you need to dig deep and catch up to avoid getting deeper in the weeds.

Kill It
When a customer orders a meat dish well done, the order may be called as “Fillet Steak, Kill It!”

Let’s Do The Next Plate Together?
A nice way to let someone know they have made a mistake in the dish or presentation. Rather than getting bawled out the superior is willing to take the time to show you how to get it right next time.

Mise (Mise en Place)
Means everything in place (see Boxed), if you are fully prepared you are mise-d out, all the prep work for your dishes is ready to go. The direct translation is “everything in place”. If you prepare all your ingredients at home before making a dish, you are also mise-d out for that dish.

No Show
Someone who does not turn up for work, or a booking that does not show for their reservation.

On Deck/On Order
When an order arrives in the kitchen the Chef running the pass will call out to other chefs what they have “on deck”. This lets the chef know what to get ready and prepare to “Fire” the dish.

On The Fly
This means to get something done immediately, without delay or any excuses!

The Pass
The hotplate where dishes are finished and checked that standards and presentation are correct before the waiting staff serve to the customer. This is also where the orders arrive and are called by the “Chef on the Pass”.

The metal rail that incoming and in progress order are affixed to, once a ticket arrives it is “On the Rail”.
At the end of service or when a lot of orders have gone out, you have “cleared the Rail”.

Someone who is not up to the required speed, or standards of the kitchen. This is the ultimate insult given to an individual, to tell them to up their game, or improve their performance. Otherwise, it might be wise to start looking for a change in career…

Soigne (pronounced swan-yay)
This means elegant in French and is used to describe the dish when you really nailed the presentation.

The Trial/Stage
The Second interview.  After a first interview with the Chef, the person will be invited in to be observed “under Fire” and to see their potential.
An extended trial is called the “stage”, where the potential employee gets a further prolonged period of trial before being fully employed in the kitchen.

Written on the top of the ticket to signal that all the staff need to be on top of their game for this customer at all times.
These can be regulars, celebrities or friends and family and in many cases are the big tippers.

And Finally – but most importantly!

Yes Chef
It does not matter if you feel he/she is incorrect, misjudged, rude or impatient in the kitchen. The response of “Yes Chef” is the only one acceptable.

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