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Chef Talk

Chef Training in Kitchen

A Guide to Chef Jargon and Etiquette in the Professional Kitchen

As a trainee chef or someone considering a career in the culinary industry, understanding chef talk and jargon is essential to thrive in the fast-paced, dynamic environment of a professional busy kitchen space. In this guide, we will explore the common catering terms, chef etiquette, and the significance of kitchen slang in fostering camaraderie among kitchen professionals. Whether you’re learning knife skills, cooking methods, or plating techniques, mastering chef lingo will enhance your culinary journey and open doors to new opportunities.

What are some common catering terms every chef should know?

Understanding Culinary Jargon:

  • Demystifying common cook terms and expressions
  • Essential vocabulary for effective communication in the kitchen

Knife Skills and Techniques:

  • Exploring the terminology related to knife cuts and knife handling
  • Mastering the art of precision and efficiency with knives

Cooking Methods and Temperatures:

  • Unveiling the terminology behind different cooking methods
  • Understanding the importance of temperature control in culinary preparations

Essential Kitchen Equipment:

  • Identifying and familiarizing yourself with essential kitchen tools and appliances
  • Using equipment-specific terminology to communicate effectively

Food Preparation Terminology:

  • Delving into terms used in ingredient preparation, such as peeling, blanching, and marinating
  • Understanding the techniques and processes involved in food preparation

Flavor Profiles and Seasonings:

  • Exploring the language of taste and flavor
  • Learning about various seasonings, spices, and herbs and their culinary applications

Plating and Presentation Terms:

  • Discovering the vocabulary used to create visually appealing dishes
  • Mastering plating techniques and artistic presentations

Types of Culinary Ingredients:

  • Understanding culinary ingredients and their classifications
  • Exploring the terminology associated with different food groups

Baking and Pastry Vocabulary:

  • Unraveling the world of baking and pastry terms
  • Building your baking knowledge and vocabulary for sweet and savory delights

Menu Planning and Restaurant Terms:

  • Navigating the language of menu creation and planning
  • Familiarizing yourself with restaurant-related terms and concepts

What is Chef Talk Etiquette?

Chefs Talking
Chefs talking in restaurant

Chef etiquette refers to the proper protocols and practices of communication within a professional kitchen.

It encompasses the respectful and efficient exchange of information among kitchen staff to ensure smooth operations and a harmonious working environment. Here are some key elements of chef etiquette:

Clear and Concise Communication

Effective communication is essential in a fast-paced kitchen. Chefs should strive to convey their messages clearly and concisely, using direct and specific language. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and promotes efficient teamwork.

Respectful Tone and Language

Maintaining a respectful tone and using appropriate language is crucial in cook talk. Chefs should address their colleagues and superiors with respect, avoiding derogatory or offensive remarks. Professionalism and courtesy should be upheld at all times.

Active Listening

Active listening is a fundamental aspect of chef talk etiquette. Chefs should attentively listen to instructions, feedback, and suggestions from their colleagues or superiors. This not only demonstrates respect but also ensures that important information is not overlooked or misunderstood.

Timely and Effective Feedback

Providing feedback in a timely and constructive manner is an important aspect of chef talk etiquette. Chefs should offer feedback on dishes, techniques, or processes with the intention of improvement rather than criticism. Feedback should be specific, actionable, and focused on the task at hand.

Maintaining a Calm and Professional Demeanor

The kitchen environment can be high-pressure and stressful at times. It is important for chefs to maintain a calm and professional demeanor, even during challenging situations. Keeping emotions in check and addressing conflicts or disagreements in a respectful and constructive manner helps to create a positive and collaborative kitchen culture.

Teamwork and Collaboration

Chef talk etiquette emphasizes the importance of teamwork and collaboration. Chefs should actively support and assist their colleagues when needed, fostering a sense of camaraderie and unity. Sharing information, techniques, and ideas promotes a culture of continuous learning and growth.

Adapting to Hierarchy

Professional kitchens often have a hierarchical structure. Respecting the chain of command and acknowledging the authority of superiors is an important aspect of chef talk etiquette. Chefs should address their superiors using appropriate titles and show deference to their expertise and experience.

By adhering to chef talk etiquette, chefs can create an environment of mutual respect, effective communication, and collaboration. This not only enhances the overall efficiency of the kitchen but also contributes to a positive and supportive work atmosphere.

Chef Talk Networking

As a new chef embarking on your culinary journey, it’s crucial to gather insights and advice from seasoned professionals. Additionally, networking is a powerful tool to expand your knowledge, build connections, and explore career opportunities within the industry.

Expert Tips for New Chefs:

  • Valuable advice from experienced chefs to help you navigate your culinary career
  • Tips for success, personal growth, and continuous learning in the kitchen

Embracing Networking Opportunities:

  • Exploring the importance of networking in the culinary world
  • Discovering chef groups, forums, meetups, cooking shows, and events to connect with industry professionals

Building a Professional Network:

  • Strategies for building and maintaining a strong professional network
  • Leveraging networking platforms to expand your reach and connect with like-minded chefs

Collaborative Partnerships:

  • Unleashing the potential of collaborative partnerships in the culinary industry
  • Exploring opportunities to work with fellow chefs, restaurants, and culinary establishments

Career Development in the Professional Kitchen

The Path to Success:

  • Exploring the various career paths available in the culinary industry
  • Understanding the skills, experience, and education required for advancement

Employment Opportunities:

  • Identifying different employment opportunities in professional kitchens
  • Exploring roles such as line cook, sous chef, and executive chef

Salary and Benefits:

  • Understanding the salary range and benefits in the culinary industry
  • Exploring factors that influence compensation and opportunities for growth

Job Prospects and Market Trends:

  • Examining the current job market trends in the culinary industry
  • Identifying areas of growth and emerging opportunities

Work-Life Balance:

  • Discussing the importance of work-life balance in a demanding industry
  • Exploring strategies for managing stress and maintaining a healthy lifestyle

Glossary of Kitchen Term Slang

“86” or “Eighty-Six”:

Meaning: To inform that a menu item is no longer available or has run out.

“In the Weeds”:

Meaning: Being overwhelmed or behind schedule in the kitchen.

“Mise en Place”:

Meaning: The preparation and organization of ingredients and equipment before cooking.

“Back of the House”:

Meaning: The area of the restaurant or kitchen where food is prepared, away from the view of customers.

“Front of the House”:

Meaning: The area of the restaurant where customers are seated and served.

“On the Fly”:

Meaning: Preparing a dish quickly, usually upon a specific customer request.


Meaning: To start cooking or prepare a dish immediately.


Meaning: Arranging and presenting food on a plate in an aesthetically pleasing manner.

“Sous Chef”:

Meaning: The second-in-command in the kitchen, responsible for assisting the head chef and managing kitchen operations.


Meaning: Adding liquid, such as wine or stock, to a hot pan to loosen and incorporate the flavorful residue from cooking.


Meaning: A hot water bath used to gently heat or keep food warm.


Meaning: A mixture of two immiscible substances, such as oil and vinegar, brought together through the use of an emulsifying agent.

“Al Dente”:

Meaning: Italian term meaning “to the tooth,” used to describe pasta or grains cooked to a firm, slightly chewy texture.

“Bouquet Garni”:

Meaning: A bundle of herbs, typically tied together with kitchen twine, used to flavor soups, stews, and sauces.


Meaning: A knife cut in which ingredients are sliced into thin, matchstick-like strips.


Meaning: A mixture of fat (such as butter) and flour used as a thickening agent for sauces, soups, and gravies.


Meaning: The browning of sugars through heat, resulting in a rich, nutty flavor and golden-brown color.


Meaning: Browning the surface of meat or seafood over high heat to develop a flavorful crust.


Meaning: Cooking food gently over low heat, just below the boiling point.


Meaning: A flavorful liquid, often a reduction of meat juices, used as a sauce or accompaniment to a dish.

These are just a few examples of chef jargon used in the professional kitchen. Mastering these terms will not only enhance your communication with fellow chefs but also deepen your understanding of culinary techniques and processes.

Congratulations on embarking on your culinary journey! By understanding chef talk, embracing chef slang, and engaging in networking opportunities, you are setting yourself up for success in the dynamic world of professional kitchens. Remember, chef talk is more than just a language; it’s a gateway to camaraderie, collaboration, and lifelong connections with fellow chefs. Continue to learn, grow, and expand your culinary vocabulary as you pursue your passion for the culinary arts.