Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Lingo

Photo courtesy  ladanen
Very few people who go to restaurants or food establishments will ever know what goes on behind the kitchen door. Those that know, often have or currently are working in the industry.
At times when your seated in the restaurant, you may have heard words and phrases between the wait staff and kitchen and wondered, "Why did they just call me a "Camper"? And what or WHO is "Dead" in the kitchen? So what are they saying to each other?

Many professions have words or phrases that are often unique to that industry and the kitchen is no different.
Well now is your chance to decode some of the more commonly used words and phrases that you might hear at your local eatery.


A
All Day
The total amount. E.g., if table 1 orders 2 burgers and table 3 orders 4 burgers, that's 6 burgers, all day.
Alley Rally
A pre-shift meeting, usually with FOH staff. Also "Pre-Shift" and "Curtain Call".

B
Back of the House (BOH)
All parts of the restaurant behind the kitchen doors. Usually synonymous with the kitchen.
Bev Nap
Beverage Napkin
Blue
Meat barley cooked so most of the meat remaining raw.
Buried
See "In the weeds".

C
Campers
A party that stays at a table for a long time.
Check back, check down
Bringing the check with the first instance of checking if the meal is satisfactory--usually at lunch so doesn't have to wait for the bill.
Cook's Best Friend
Manager's term for a spatula (good for food cost).
Coupon
Refers to a person; any cheap or "early bird special" type.
Cover
A customer in a seat at a top. "We did 500 covers tonight."
Cremate
Cook beyond the normal edible state.
To burn something.
Cut
A slice of meat. Or, to reduce staffing level. (See "phase")

D
Daypart
A segment of the day associated with a meal period. E.g., "Breakfast" is a daypart.
Dead
Food that's been sitting around too long to be served.
An empty or near-empty restaurant
Deuce
A table or party of two.
Dine & Dash
Eat and leave without paying the bill.
Double-Seat
Seating two parties concurrently to a single server. An order of magnitude less stressful than being "triple-sat".
Douse it
Smother in sauce.
Down
An instance of being sat. "I have a new down on table 3". Or, "I just got 5 new downs."
Order is in the processes of being cooked.
Dragging
Items not ready with the rest of the order. "I'm dragging the fries with that burger!"
Drop
Start cooking the accompanied item. ("This burger's cremated, better drop those fries")
Dying
Food that's been sitting around but not yet dead.

E
"86"
1. To refuse to serve (an unwelcome customer) at a bar or restaurant.
2. a) To throw out; eject; b) to throw away; discard.
Expeditor ("Expo")
Person in charge of organizing food from kitchen and sending to the dining room. "Who's on expo tonight?"

F
Fire
Same as "cook" but as in "cook it now!"
Four-Top
A table of four. Also "6-top", "8-top", etc.
Front of House (FOH)
The part of the restaurant from the kitchen doors to the lobby. Any area the customer might normally see.

G
Guest
Management-speak for a "customer".

H
Hell
See: "Check from...", "Order From". Also, any number of variations (day from, guest from, manager from, server from, chef from...).
Hockey Puck
A well done hamburger.

I
In The Weeds
In way over your head, and to even mention that you need help would take more time and energy than you can afford because three more tables were just sat in your section, and the cooks are screaming at you to grab the two orders that just came up and you still need to stop at the bar to pick up table 5's drink order because the bartender is giving you the evil eye.

J
Jumping
Adjective describing a very busy restaurant: e.g., "This joint is jumping!"

K
Kill
To stop the order.

L
Loner
A single customer who is eating alone.


M
The Man
Health Inspector. "Wash your hands, The Man is here!"


N
No Call/No Show
Employee who does not show up and does not call.
Reservation that does not show up and does not call.
Nuke
Microwave (verb)

O
On a Rail or On the Fly
Something needed quickly. "I need table 29's food on a rail!"
"Give me a well done Ribeye...on the fly!"

P
Party
A group of people at a table.
Pearl Diver
Offensive name for a dishwasher.
Phase
Cut staff. Also, "phased". "It was dead, so the manager phased 3 servers."
The Pit
Usually the dish area. Also, any area that no one wants to work. "What section are you in?" "They put me in the pit!"
Pittsburgh Rare
Burnt outside, rare inside.

Q
Quote
The length of time being told that the next available table will be available. "What's the quote?" "15 min."

R
Rednecks
The non-tipping public (see "stiffs")
Rollup
Silverware rolled into a napkin, usually linen but can be paper.
Runner
A designated person who does not pick up a section but just takes food to the tables. Also, anyone taking food to a table. Kitchen manager's favorite thing to yell.

S
Sat/Seat
An instance of bringing a party to a top. "I'm sorry I can't take your order right now, the manager just triple-sat me!"
Separate Check Hell
A version of "Special Order From Hell", but with all parties requesting separate checks.
Sidework
Work performed by hourly restaurant workers other than serving guests (e.g., polishing silverware).
Skate
Leaving without doing sidework.
Slammed
See "In The Weeds". Perhaps not as out of control as "in the weeds".
Snake
Pick up a table not in one's section, without permission from management or server to whom the table belongs.
Sommelier
The wine expert.
Special Order From Hell
Parties of 4 or more who special order you to death.
Station or Section
A group of tables assigned to a server/busser, usually numbered. (As in, "I'd help you but you're not in my section.")
Stiffs
The non-tipping public (see "redneck")
Still Moving (or Still Alive)
Ultra rare. (see also, "Blue")
Stretch It
To make four orders of vinaigrette last through an entire shift by "stretching" with whatever is available and edible.

T
Top
Table
Triple-Seat
Seating three parties concurrently to a single server. "Whip me, beat me, triple-seat me."
Turn
One cycle of seating, serving and clearing a party at a table. "I've only had 2 turns on that table."

U
Under like a rock
Way in the weeds.
Upsell
Suggest a higher priced item. "I'd like a Gin & Tonic, please." "Tanqueray?"

W
Waiter/Waitress
What we used to call "servers"
Waitron
Coined in late '80's to avoid using "sexist" terms "Waiter/Waitress". Nearly every server working back then claims inventing the term. Lost favor in '90's to "Server".
Walkout
Someone who leaves without paying the bill. (See "stiff" or "redneck")
Weeded
See "in the weeds".
Window
The area in the kitchen where food is placed when it is ready to be delivered to the customer.

So next time your in the FOH and hear of a snake who got slammed you won't stiff  the wait staff.

What could be clearer!

 

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