Whether you’re cooking with family or a small group of friends, it’s fun to play the role of executive chef and bark orders like Bobby Flay or Emeril Lagasse. Sure, you may not have mastered Instant Ramen or stepped foot inside of a restaurant kitchen, but it’s easy to fake your expertise with just a handful of common words and phrases.

ChefsFeed has rolled out a Chef Slang series that delves into the definitions of some of the industry’s most popular terms. We’ve rounded up four of our favorites, as well as six other helpful additions to get you talking like a pro in no time. Scroll down and check them out, shoemaker.

In the weeds

Meaning: Overwhelmed; chaos; too much going on at once with not enough resources

Used in a sentence: “I have one sous chef and 50 orders of filet mignon. I’m completely in the weeds right now.”

On the fly

Meaning: Needing something quickly, typically because a dish was sent back or a server forgot to put it on the ticket.

Used in a sentence: “Crap, I completely forgot that table 12 ordered a lobster roll. Can I get one on the fly?”

Stretch it

Meaning: Running low on a specific ingredient.

Used in a sentence: “This homemade ranch dressing is running extremely low. We’ve got to stretch it until we close in an hour.”


Meaning: Very important person, special guest, friend of the chef, etc.

Used in a sentence: “We’ve got a VIP at table 10. Don’t eff it up


Meaning: When you’re out of an ingredient or dish and need it removed from the menu

Used in a sentence: “That’s the last of grandma’s famous cherry pie for today. 86 it.”


Meaning: a) The act of leaving the kitchen to interact with a customer, typically in a positive manner; b) an injury resulting from a kitchen appliance or tool

Used in a sentence: a) “Did you touch table #9, the couple who raved about your meatballs?” b) “I got touched by the hot stove and now my finger is on fire.”

Dying/Dead Plate

Meaning: On the verge of (or already) unservable

Used in a sentence: “You’ve waited nearly ten minutes to pick up and serve these scallops. It’s a dead plate.”

Fire/Fire It

Meaning: An order given to cooks to start preparing a dish.

Used in a sentence: “I’ve got an order for three cheeseburgers. Fire them up!”


Meaning: A refrigerated room that stores perishable ingredients.

Used in a sentence: “We’re running low on salmon filets. Can you grab some more from the walk-in?”


Meaning: A cook who’s horrible at his/her job for a plethora of reasons.

Used in a sentence: “You undercooked the pasta and your sauce tastes like Ragu. Stop being a shoemaker.”

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