Service Week here on Zagat Blog, meaning it's time to take a look at the hard-working folks of the front of the house. But before we can go any further, first it's time to brush up on our restaurant lingo. Check out our quickie primer below, and in no time you'll be talking like an industry insider.
“all day” - Used by cooks and expeditors to communicate how many of an item has been ordered. “10 hanger steaks all day” means you have 10 steaks on order, whether ordered or fired. You’ll often hear cooks shouting: “How many all day??”
“à la minute” - A dish that is prepared when the order comes in, not pre-assembled or pre-cooked. Essentially, made to order.
“covers” - How many "meals" the restaurant has served (essentially, people) in one night. One hundred covers a night means that a restaurant has served 100 meals (although the dining room may only contain 30 seats).
“order-fire” - An item that is “fired” immediately upon receiving the order. In many restaurants an order doesn’t get “fired” (aka the final "execution" of the dish) until a certain amount of time after the diners have received their last course.
“hot behind!” - Nope, this is not what you say when someone in the kitchen has a great backside. It means, "Don’t move, something hot is behind you!"
"on the fly" - Stop what you’re doing and do this right away. This is usually how an order is called when a dish has to be re-fired, because it has been sent back.
"eighty-six" - Out of an item, e.g., "Eighty-six the steak."
"grat" - Short for when a server includes gratuity on a check, usually for large groups.
"campers"- Diners who stay at their table for a very long time and are not ordering anything else.
"in the weeds"- When a service staff member or cook is behind on his/her orders and/or overwhelmed by a sudden rush.
"stiffs"- non-tipping customers.
"top"- A way to describe how many people are at the table, e.g., two-top, four-top, etc.