From the moment I started watching FX’s The Bear, I was hooked. Perhaps it’s because the first scene starts with one of my favorite songs, the Refused “New Noise,” or because the lead actor, Jeremy Allen White who plays Carmen, isn’t too hard on the eyes, or because Sydney (Ayo Edebiri) is a passionate, relatable, aspiring chef.
Probably all of the above. The show centers around a fine dining chef who inherits his late brother’s flailing Chicago sandwich restaurant. Not only is it riveting thanks to an impeccable script and brilliant, emotional performances, it feels true to what it’s like to work in a kitchen, all the way down to the kitchen terms.
From the speed and intensity that goes on behind the door (out of view of customers) to slang like behind, it immediately dropped me back into the time when I staged in the pastry department.
A lot of what those on the line say in kitchens is shorthand. It’s a way to let people know what’s going on quickly or to alert others to your location so no one gets burned, stabbed, or walked into.
Many of those kitchen terms — from 86 to hands to staging — were familiar to me, but if you’ve been watching The Bear and have no clue what they’re saying, here’s a glossary of the lingo they use.
Kitchen Terms Used In The Bear
- All Day: All the food that needs to be made at that time across all the tickets.
- Behind: Said when you’re walking behind someone in a kitchen.
- Brigade system: The organizational system designed by French chef Auguste Escoffier. Each person within the system has a specific role and well-defined responsibilities.
- Chef de Partie: Within the French brigade system, this is a chef who oversees a certain part of the kitchen (the sauces, vegetables, etc.).
- Chit: The order ticket.
- Corner: Said when you’re walking around a corner.
- Family or Family Meal: The meal made for the kitchen staff before or after a shift.
- Fire or Pick Up: Start making a dish.
- Hands: Asking someone to take the meal to a customer.
- Heard: Acknowledgment that your words were heard.
- Hot: Said when you’re carrying something hot. Can be combined with corner or behind.
- In the weeds: Extremely busy or overwhelmed.
- On deck: What food needs to be cooked next.
- On the line: Where the cooking is done in the kitchen.
- Out: The number of minutes until a dish is ready. (Example: five out means a dish will be ready in five minutes.)
- Sharp: Said when you’re carrying something sharp, like a knife.
- Stage: Someone working in a kitchen for free with the purpose of learning or with the hopes of working there in the future. Pronounced stahj, it’s like an unpaid internship.
- SOS: Sauce on the side.
- Sous Chef: The second in command. In the French brigade system, they fall under the head chef, sometimes called the Executive Chef or Chef de Cuisine.
- Walk-in: The walk-in fridge or freezer.
- The board: Where all of the tickets are held so they can be fired.
- Top: A table with x number of people. (Example: A four top is a table with four people.)
- Yes, Chef: I understand. (Whether or not you agree.)
- 86: All out of an ingredient or a dish. Or something made that shouldn’t be served.
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