Working in a kitchen can be a high-pressure environment, and chefs and cooks often develop a language of their own to communicate quickly and efficiently with one another. This language, known as kitchen slang or kitchen jargon, can be colorful, creative, and sometimes even humorous. In this article, we’ll explore some of the most common kitchen slang terms and phrases and what they mean.
Behind the Line
The phrase “behind the line” is one of the most commonly used terms in a kitchen. It refers to the area where the cooking and food preparation take place. When a cook or chef says “behind the line,” it is a signal to their colleagues that they are moving behind the cooking area and should be careful not to bump into them or their equipment.
In the Weeds
Another common term in the kitchen is “in the weeds.” This phrase is used to describe a state of being overwhelmed or behind on orders. A cook or chef might say they are “in the weeds” when they have a backlog of orders and are struggling to keep up.
The phrase “all day” is used to indicate the total number of a specific dish that needs to be prepared. For example, if an order for six burgers comes in, the chef might say “six burgers, all day” to let the other cooks know how many burgers they need to prepare in total.
On the Fly
When a dish is prepared “on the fly,” it means that it is being made quickly and without a lot of preparation. This term is often used when a customer requests a specific dish that is not on the menu or needs to be prepared in a hurry.
The term “86” is used in the kitchen to indicate that a specific dish or ingredient is no longer available. For example, if a restaurant runs out of a particular type of fish, the chef might say “we’re 86’d on the halibut” to let the other cooks know that they can no longer use that ingredient.
Mise en Place
“Mise en place” is a French term that means “putting in place.” In a kitchen, it refers to the process of preparing and organizing all of the ingredients and equipment needed for a dish before starting to cook. This allows the cook or chef to work more efficiently and quickly.
Kitchen slang is an important part of the culture of a restaurant kitchen, and mastering it can help cooks and chefs communicate more efficiently and effectively with one another. From “behind the line” to “86,” these colorful and creative phrases are an integral part of the fast-paced world of professional cooking. By understanding and using these terms, cooks and chefs can work together seamlessly to create delicious and memorable meals for their customers.