When you hear chefs throwing around phrases like “amuse-bouche,” “julienne-style,” & “unleavened,” it can feel like the food world has its own language. & you’re not wrong! There are a plethora of culinary terms that aren’t commonly used in everyday conversations.

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The same goes for restaurants. From the kitchen lớn the host stand, you’ll likely hear plenty of restaurant lingo. So, what do things lượt thích “on the fly” and “86ed” mean when you hear them coming from the back of the house? (Also, what does “back of the house” mean?) Read on to find out.

1. 2-top, 4-top, etc.

What is 2-top and 4-top? This is the number of guests seated at a table. A two vị trí cao nhất table has 2 people, a four vị trí cao nhất table has 4—you get the gist. The host will usually use this term when telling a server the table or section they’re working has been sat with new guests.

In a sentence: “I just sat you with a 4-top on the patio.”

2. 86ed

What does it mean to 86? When you run out of a certain ingredient, drink, or menu item, it’s 86ed. Usually, the manager or kitchen will alert servers when a menu vật phẩm is 86ed.

In a sentence: “We just sold our last oyster dish, so 86 oysters for the rest of the night.”

3. All day

What does all day mean in the kitchen? This term refers to the total number of certain dishes the kitchen needs khổng lồ make at a given time. Often, there are multiple ticket orders in the window. So, the server, expo worker, head chef, or manager might hotline out “5 shrimp baskets all day!” meaning that, of all the tickets in the window, there are five orders of shrimp baskets.

In a sentence: “I need four calamari apps & three eggplant parmesans all day!”

4. A la carte

“A la carte” is a French term that means a menu thành tích is sold by itself. If a burger joint sells burgers and sides a la carte, that means a burger doesn’t come with a side included.

In a sentence: “Does the veggie burger come with fries or is it a la carte?”

5. Back of the house

The back-of-house staff is the team members who work in the “back” of the restaurant và generally don’t interact with customers. This encompasses people like the dishwasher, chefs, và expo, và areas like the kitchen, freezers, & storage areas.

In a sentence: “See if we have extra ramekins in the back of the house, will you?”

6. Busser

The person who cleans up the dishes, napkins, and debris from a table. They’re also usually the ones tasked with wiping down and cleaning tables off so they’re ready to lớn be sat with new patrons.

In a sentence: “We need the busser khổng lồ clear off table 12 so we can reseat it.”

7. Campers

This is a term for people who linger at their table long after they’ve finished their meal & paid their check. Servers aren’t fond of campers because they’d rather be able khổng lồ clean và reseat their table with new diners. This is an especially egregious move when a restaurant is on a wait and people are lining up for a table.

In a sentence: “These campers at table 44 paid their kiểm tra 20 minutes ago!”


8. Kiểm tra presenter

A check presenter is a one- or two-panel receipt holder, often made of leather, plastic, or faux leather. It’s where the customer is given their receipt & then places their payment. Some restaurants even use mini clipboards or checks paperclipped with signature postcards to lớn mix it up.

In a sentence: “Let me drop this check presenter at table 8, then I’ll grab more menus.”

9. Comped

A dish is “comped” when it’s given lớn a customer for free. A dish or drink could be comped if it’s deemed not up to lớn the establishment’s standards (i.e. Too cold), rather than merely a taste preference by the customer (i.e. They just didn’t like it). It could also be used to impress an important guest.

In a sentence: “I comped their appetizer because the kitchen lost their order & their entrees came out late.”

10. Corner

This is what servers often yell when they’re rounding a corner (usually in or near the kitchen) lớn alert anyone else who might be walking towards them that they can’t see. This helps avoid any accidents or collisions, especially when people are holding dishes, cups, or plates of food.

In a sentence: “Corner!”

11. Double-sat

When the host seats a server’s section back-to-back. It’s often stressful for servers lớn be sat with more than one table at a time. It’s not the over of the world, but it requires the server vì chưng things lượt thích greet them, take drink orders, take food orders, & run food for two tables around the same time, as opposed to having each table at a different point in their dining experience.

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In a sentence: “Can you take these waters to lớn table 7? The host just double-sat me.”

12. Double shift

When a server, host, or kitchen employee works two shifts back-to-back. This is also sometimes called a “volume” shift.

In a sentence: “I’m glad I have tomorrow off — I’ve worked doubles the past two days.”

13. Expo

Short for “expeditor,” the expo works as a type of middle-person between the kitchen and the dining room. Whether it’s a dedicated worker or the restaurant’s manager, they’re tasked with making sure each dish has any finishing touches it needs and is ready lớn be taken out khổng lồ the table.

In a sentence: “The expo said the kitchen needs more parsley for garnishing.”

14. Fire

This is a term used by the head chef lớn let others in the kitchen know it’s time khổng lồ start cooking or prepping a dish.

In a sentence: “Go ahead and fire those pizzas for table 23!”


15. Food runner

This one’s pretty straightforward. A food runner is a person whose job it is to take food lớn tables. If a new employee is training, sometimes they’ll work a few shifts as a food runner lớn get familiar with dishes. Or, the expo might step in as a food runner if the dining room gets packed suddenly.

In a sentence: “I just saw the food runner drop table 22’s apps, so I’ll go ahead & ring in table 20’s order.”

16. Front of the house

The front of the house meaning is the front of a restaurant. It’s the place where patrons usually are, such as the dining room, waiting area, & the bar. The front-of-house team members are customer-facing employees. Servers, hostesses, bartenders, and bussers are front-of-house workers.

In a sentence: “Jenna’s managing the front of the house tonight.”

17. High-top

High-top tables are taller than the average dinner table, usually with stools for seating. These tables are often found near a restaurant’s bar area.

In a sentence: “We’re on a 10-minute wait for the dining room, but we’ve got a few high-top tables available by the bar if you’d lượt thích to sit there.”

18. In the weeds

When a vps is swamped or has a lot of tables khổng lồ serve, they’re in the weeds. It could stem from being double- or triple-sat, having a large tiệc nhỏ at one of their tables, or simply having a lot of tables in their section.

In a sentence: “Can you get drinks for table 15? I’m in the weeds with this các buổi party of 10!”

19. In the window

When an order is ready to lớn be taken out khổng lồ the guest’s table, chefs will usually put it “in the window.” This is what restaurant pros gọi the warming area between the kitchen and the vps station where food can be put for a few minutes without getting cold.

In a sentence: “I’ve got two filet mignons và one chicken sandwich in the window ready to go.”

20. On the fly

Mistakes happen. Sometimes a vps forgets to lớn put an order in, or a steak isn’t cooked to a patron’s preference. In these cases, sometimes the kitchen will be asked to lớn cook a new dish “on the fly,” or as soon as humanly possible. Understandably, chefs aren’t big fans of having lớn whip up dishes on the fly.

In a sentence: “I put in table 6’s apps but forgot their entrees — I need two blackened chicken sandwiches on the fly!”

21. Side work

In addition to lớn serving tables, most servers also have khổng lồ complete “side work” at the over of their shift. This preps the new shift & makes sure the next shift’s servers have what they need and are set up for success. Side work is anything from brewing tea and topping off salad dressing containers to refilling salt & pepper shakers & sweeping their section.

In a sentence: “My side work tonight is rolling silverware, so I might be here a while.”

22. Ticket

When an order is keyed into a POS system, it usually prints out a ticket that the chef or server uses khổng lồ alert the kitchen that an order needs lớn be made. It includes what time the order was put in, as well as any substitutions or moderations that the guest requests. Putting a ticket with an order helps the expo check to make sure the dish matches the order before it goes out.

In a sentence: “I’ve got 11 tickets in the window, so it must be getting busy out there.”

Kitchen Lingo vs. Hostess Lingo vs. Server Lingo

While some restaurant slang is used more by either hostesses, servers, or chefs, they will all use most of these terms—and they certainly understand them all so that they can communicate effectively & efficiently in a fast-paced environment.

Understanding Restaurant Lingo and Restaurant Slang

If you work in the restaurant industry, you will definitely want to know & understand the lingo. Whether you just got your first job as a server or cook or you are an experienced manager, it is important khổng lồ get up lớn speed on the lingo in order lớn be an efficient member of the restaurant team. Not to mention, learning the restaurant slang can help you avoid looking foolish in front of coworkers.

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