Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Not About Food >
Sep 15, 2005 04:34 PM

Common professional kitchen terms?

  • z

I'm in search of a website or book that has a glossary of terms used in restaurant kitchens, specifically terms that are French in origin. Any recommendations?

One term in particular that I'm trying to figure out... on the TV show Chef!, Gareth Blackstock takes the written tickets from the servers and calls out the orders to his kitchen staff. He always prefaces it with what I assume is a French phrase that sounds like "sah-mahge". What is he saying? And are there other terms a French chef would use to call out tickets?

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. What he's calling out is "ça marche", which means "it's working" -- i.e., "get on it".

    "On the rail" means "I need it yesterday".

    "In the weeds" means overwhelmed, totally slammed.

    3 Replies
    1. re: Das Ubergeek

      86'ed - means all out of
      on the fly - right now!
      all day - how far behind I am? Give me a count of what I owe you...

      1. re: roux42

        These are old diner terms, too.

        73 = bye
        86 = all out of, or don't serve this person.
        99 = the boss is watching
        moo and two = steak and eggs
        two ruined = two eggs, scrambled
        two up = two eggs, sunny side up
        two over = two eggs, over easy
        two burned = two eggs, over hard
        with breath = with onions

      2. re: Das Ubergeek

        What are expediters and porters- what exactly do they do? Some others that I forget...

      3. Someone had posted this previously and I saved it, should help a little.


        1. Maybe this isn't quite what you're asking for, but here is a website with French cuisine terms.

          Also, see link below.
          Kitchen French for English language

          I think what you're asking for is better/eaiser if you have already learned French. From there, it would be easier. In the interim, maybe someone in France will recommend a textbook from their cooking school. Then, just translate it on babelfish [online translation] or something. Maybe someone at this site will name a French book for you.

          The hard part is learning the real word from the phonetics you identify when its spoken. French language pronounces letters differently from American/English. Phonetics then has to be interpreted with that in mind.

          My nanny, when I was growing up, used to say "G'aus ["gehen Sie hinaus" abbreviated] Mutta's zimmer." In later years, I went to learn German in school and only remembered it as "Rowse auf moota seama." Thankfully, a well-learned teacher knew exactly what I was saying and told me the right way to say "Get out of your Mother's bedroom" in German. I would noty have been able to llok it up in a dictionary.

          Maybe you'd enjoy this little article. It show there is more to language than just the words. There is custom and respect.

          What you're asking to do is quite commendable in that regard. Best wishes.

          Here is a link to some French cookbooks.

          Finally, here is a taste of French Kitchen Speak. They wrote:
          "The word chef is a shortened form of chef de cuisine (head of kitchen). In French, chef is generally used in the sense of boss, a fact which may lead to misunderstandings. The same goes to say about the related term sous chef (pronounced "soo-sheff"): it usually means the number 2 chef in the kitchen hierarchy – the direct executive assistant of the head chef but in large establishments in English-speaking countries, the title may be given to any of several assistant chefs and it occasionally describes a line cook or a – possibly entirely untrained – kitchen aide. Recently the term marmiton has emerged to represent an amateur chef or foodie, a person of non-formal training that has superior culinary skills to that of cooks, homemakers, or general lay people. The international association of amateur chefs, Les Marmiton, has seven organizations in five countries. Each organization is limited to 100 individuals, and membership is much prized."

          Someone should come up with a book for you something like this one [for Spanish].

          Maybe one of these? See,



          3 Replies
          1. re: kc girl

            Thank you so much! This is *exactly* what I was looking for. I'm going to try to borrow the CIA texts (can't justify buying them yet), but in the meantime the resources you've listed will be very helpful. Merci!

            1. re: kc girl

              I had a look at that Kitchen Spanish link. I clicked on the sample pages.

              In a very brief overview, I found eleven very basic errors. Too many. Where was their proofreader?

              I'd say don't spend the money on it, if you need a Spanish kitchen dictionary.

              1. re: Cristina

                Good to know. Is the book you looked at the same author as the French in the Kitchen? Did you look at the Firefly one on the first page or navigate to another?

            2. And then there is the garde manger (pronounced 'round these parts as garmanzhey), who is responsible for cold side preparations like pates and salads and such.