All featured products are curated independently by our editors. When you buy something through our retail links, we may receive a commission.

Use this popular chef lingo to sound like a true kitchen master, no matter your experience. Or lack thereof…

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

We’ve rounded up some of our favorite kitchen lingo to get you talking like a professional chef in no time. Scroll down and check them out, shoemaker.

1. “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.”

Pepper-Crusted Filet Mignon with Bearnaise Sauce recipe

Chowhound

2. “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?”

One of the best books ever written on the subject of professional kitchens.
Buy Now

3. “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.”

homemade ranch recipe for national ranch dressing day

Shutterstock

4. “VIP”

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.”

Related Reading: This Easy Seafood Stew Is Chef Anita Lo’s Favorite Solo Meal

5. “86”

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.”

6. “Touched”

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.”

fine dining guide

Shutterstock

Related Reading: Best Cooking Shows On Netflix for the Foodie in You

7. “Dying/Dead Plate”

Meaning: On the verge of (or already) unservable because it sat too long under the heat lamp.

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

8. “Order In”

Meaning: To signify to the entire line that a new order is in and needs to be prepared. Usually followed by the line manager reading off the order line by line.

Used in a sentence: “Order in. Two salmon specials, one no potatoes sub greens and one order of sauteed eggplant.”

Oscars food menu

Shutterstock

9. “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!”

Marquette Castings 10-Inch Skillet, $94.95 on Amazon

Sear and sauté like a true professional with quality cast-iron.
Buy Now

10. “Walk-In”

Meaning: A refrigerated room that stores perishable ingredients.

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

11. “Shoemaker”

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.”

Related Video: How to Use Sardines Like a Michelin-Starred Chef


Joey is a NYC-based writer/editor, TV/radio personality, editor-at-large for Chowhound, author of "Basic Bitchen," and host of "Dish This." His work has been featured in outlets like Food & Wine, People, InStyle, Travel+Leisure, and BuzzFeed. Prior to a career in editorial, he served as the lead publicist for hit TLC shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo," "My Strange Addiction," and "My Crazy Obsession." In his spare time, he enjoys volleyball, visiting the beaches of Naples, Fla. (his hometown), worshipping Beyoncé, eating sour candy, writing depressing poetry, interior design, and perfecting his stand-up comedy routine. He's also been struck by lightning—quite the shocking experience.
See more articles