Yes, Chef: Restaurant Slang That Will Make You Sound Like a Pro



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A chef is cooking in his restaurant's kitchen


What could possibly inspire such a list of must-know restaurant slang? If you know, you know. If you don’t though, we’re talking about the popular TV show “The Bear.” “The Bear” follows a 30-something-year-old chef named Carmen Berzatto (or Carmy) who has returned home to Chicago after traveling around to work at some of the world’s best restaurants. His career is sidetracked after the heartbreaking loss of his older brother who left behind a rundown mess of a restaurant.

"The Bear" immerses viewers in the fast-paced, unforgiving, cortisol-charged world of the restaurant industry — and the insider restaurant slang used on the show is just as fast-paced. Carmy recruits and works with family and coworkers to attempt to completely revamp his brother’s restaurant. It’s a beautiful heart-wrenching emotional rollercoaster of a show, and you’ll likely find yourself compelled to try to become the best chef version of yourself. 

Regardless of whether you want to go full pro chef mode at home or just have a quick brush-up on your essential restaurant slang (which also comes in handy when watching the Food Network), we've got you covered. 

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1. 'Back Of House'

The "back of house" refers to all of the staff that work in the back of restaurant. This can include chefs, line cooks, kitchen prep, dishwashers, expos, and storage area staff.

Related: 17 Mistakes You Should Never Make When Dining Out

Restaurant interior
Chef cooks working in professional kitchen


Regardless of whether you’re in the middle of a slow or fast-paced shift, the moment you hear “corner” just know that this means someone else is coming around the corner. They could be carrying hot plates, sharp utensils, bowls brimming with steaming liquids, etc. So, make sure you move with caution.

A male chef pouring sauce on meal
Chef decorating a plate while working at a commercial kitchen

5. 'Hands!'

As a server, if you hear your chef yelling “hands!” This means that a dish is ready to be delivered to its customer. If that dish is a hot food item, you do not want to leave that dish waiting in the window. And the “window” is the warm and well-lit area where a chef will leave dishes to be inspected before they are run out to the dining room.

Related: Chefs Dish on the Biggest Ripoffs To Avoid When Eating at a Restaurant

Overly busy restaurant kitchen

6. 'In The Weeds'

You don’t even had to have worked in the industry to be familiar with this slang term. When you or anyone else goes on about being “in the weeds” it simply means that the workload has attained terrible and overwhelming heights.

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Friendly hostess working at a restaurant

8. '2-Top,' '4-Top,' Etc.

This represents how many guests have been seated at a specific table. Your restaurant’s will use this term whenever they’re letting a server know about how many new guests have been sat at their table.

Chef decorating a plate while working in the kitchen at a restaurant

9. 'All Day'

This refers to the total number of a specific dish needed at a given time during service. Think of it this way: If you’re preparing two chicken sandwiches and then 2 more tickets come through with another four chicken sandwiches between them, you’re have six chicken sandwiches all day.

African-American chef finishing dish

10. 'Fire!'

No, this generally does not mean that you have a dangerous kitchen fire on your hands. However, you could have a dangerously fiery-tempered head chef on your hands if you don’t start cooking or prepping whatever dish they tell you to “fire!”

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Chefs cooking in restaurant kitchen
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'On The Fly'

We’re all prone to making mistakes. Even if you’ve climbed the ranks to work in fine dining. If a server forgets to punch in an order informing the kitchen staff about what needs to be made, or maybe a guest sends a food item back, the kitchen’s going to need to put together a replacement meal as quickly as humanly possible. This is what’s meant by preparing said meal “on the fly.”