Culinary Lingo

Anyone in the Culinary Industry will tell you communication is the key to success. If you want this same success, try incorporating some culinary lingo into your daily conversations. These 5 terms and phrases might make you sound like a professional chef, and everyone will know exactly what you mean.  

  1. Heard – This is the number one word used in a kitchen to convey the listener heard the speaker. When someone speaks to you, simply reply “Heard” or if a chef is talking to you, reply “Heard, Chef.” This one word response lets the speaker know you heard what was said.
    • Culinary Example – A Chef might ask the line cook to make some potatoes. When the line cook replies “heard,” the Chef knows the line cook has heard his request and will follow through with making the potatoes.  
    • Everyday Life Example – Imagine how this simple response could improve your marital communication. Wife says, “Put the toilet seat down.” Husband replies, “Heard.” So this might not work for every situation; however, letting the speaker know their words were heard is a great way to communicate. Try it today. When someone says something to you, simply reply “heard.” They might look at you funny or laugh, but they will know you heard what they said. That is the most important part of communication.
  1. Behind – This one word lets others know where you are in location to them so they do not accidentally bump into you. This word can also be used in conjunction with other important words like: Behind Hot (When you are carrying something hot and walking behind someone), Behind Heavy (When you are holding something heaving and stepping behind someone), or Behind Sharp (When you are carrying a sharp object and walking behind someone. You might keep silent if you are premeditating murder. LOL)
    • Culinary Example – When the Chef is carrying the filet mignon in a hot pan over to the plating station and he has to pass others in the kitchen, he yells “Behind Hot” so everyone knows his location in the kitchen and they do not get in his way or get burned.
    • Everyday Life Example – When shopping at the store, there is always a person in the middle of the aisle or exactly where you need to walk. Sometimes they are just in their own world and they simply don’t see you. Saying “behind,” as you walk behind them, lets them know your location and then they will not bump into you. This may also get you funny looks from those who don’t know this term. One Chef said he was questioned by a female, “What did you say about my behind?”
  1. In the Weeds – This phrase lets others know you need some help. You have become overwhelmed with orders and suddenly, you find yourself “in the weeds” and you are in need of some additional time or assistance.
    • Culinary Example – When the Chef asks a Line Cook to prepare a side and the Cook replies, “in the weeds,” the Chef knows the Cook needs a couple minutes to catch up or some assistance. 
    • Everyday Life Example – Wouldn’t it be great if you could admit that you are “in the weeds” right now? If someone asks you to attend one more event, volunteer for another fundraiser, work a few extra overtime hours, or finish the endless list of chores at home, you could simply reply with “in the weeds” and the person asking would not judge you (unless, of course, you use this phrase every time you are asked to do something). They would simply know you are in need of some additional time or you might even need some help in some way. They might even offer to help. 
  1. On the Fly – When you need something done quickly, you add this phrase to your request.
    • Culinary Example – A Chef may request an order of Chocolate Cheesecake on the fly because a server forgot to ring it in and it has been 20 minutes. He is conveying the immediacy of preparing this dessert.
    • Everyday Life Example – Ask your children to clean their room “on the fly.” It might work or it might not; however, if you ask a friend to meet for coffee “on the fly,” they will understand the importance of meeting soon.
  1. 86 – Numbers can be meaningful and meaningless, depending on the environment. In a kitchen, when something is 86, it means that item is no longer available.
    • Culinary Example – When the Chef used the last piece of shrimp, he let the kitchen and Front of the House staff know by yelling “86 Shrimp.” This lets everyone know that shrimp is no longer available.
    • Everyday Life Example – 86 that bill. 86 cleaning the house. 86 working overtime this week. See, this culinary term works in real life, too. While there may be consequences to 86ing something, it still feels good to say it.

Now that you have learned 5 new culinary words and phrases, try using them in your everyday life. See if others know what you mean. If they do, give yourself an A for communication. If not, educate them. Learning new words is exciting!

If you are interested in reading more about the elite culinary world, consider reading How to Hire a Private Chef

Why You Should Hire A Private Chef, and Which Private Chef Service is Right for You?

Written by: Dr. Dana, Co-Owner of The Rogue Chef, Branson, MO. 618-977-3156;