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Why Do Chefs Say “All Day”? Restaurant Term Explained

chef giving instructions

If you’ve ever entered a restaurant kitchen, you might’ve heard the Chef shout “all day”. You might’ve heard the same in popular cooking competitions on TV and in the hit show “The Bear”.

This term can be a real riddle to figure out, as it’s not as obvious as some other lingo used in kitchens. Working in the culinary industry means you should be aware of this term and all other slang words used in the kitchen environment.

So, why do Chefs say “all day”? And what other kitchen lingo do they use? We’ll explain all of it in this article.

Introduction to Kitchen Lingo

High-pressure working environments often require their own lingo that helps staff members better understand instructions and have a clear idea of what they’re supposed to do.

In fast-paced kitchens, quick communication is key. It’s therefore no surprise that Chefs and other kitchen workers have developed their own slang to help them keep things going.

“All day” is probably the most famous example of this. Although the meaning behind this slang is easy to explain, the same cannot be said for when exactly it originated. Chefs believe some variations of it have existed since the 1880s when restaurants started to boom.

The Meaning of “All Day”

Simply put, the term refers to the total number of orders of a specific dish. For example, if table 13 orders two steaks and table 16 orders three steaks, that would be “five steaks all day”.

One reason people get this term wrong is because it’s actually counterintuitive to what it sounds. “All day” may suggest it’s the number of orders throughout the entire shift (or day), but it actually stands for the number of orders in one specific moment.

Why Do Chefs Say “All Day”?

Let’s say you work as a Chef in a kitchen and there have been two orders for salmon. Then, a Server tells you one more order for salmon has just come in. That’s “three salmon all day”. If another order for salmon comes in, that’s going to be “four salmon all day”, and so on.

By saying it that way, you combine all the orders and ensure everyone knows the exact number of salmon being prepared.

This helps avoid confusion and allows everyone in the kitchen to assess whether they have enough ingredients to fulfill all orders.

Other team members usually shout “heard” to indicate that they’ve understood the message and are preparing the correct amount of the dish.

The Importance of “All Day” in Kitchen Operations

It’s no secret that restaurant kitchens can be really busy, especially at lunch and dinner times. With so many orders going through the station, communicating clearly and ensuring everyone knows the exact number of orders being prepared is crucial.

When the Server comes in with a new order or deposits an order ticket, it’s up to the Chef or their Sous Chef to call out that order in the most efficient way. In loud and fast-paced kitchens, it’s important to avoid mistakes, which is why every member of kitchen staff should know the number of orders they’re preparing at that exact moment.

The term “all day” was introduced to give a clear indication of how many orders are being prepared. Let’s say you shout to your kitchen staff that you need “seven fries all day”. Cooks and other kitchen staff members can immediately assess whether they have enough ingredients at hand and proceed with preparing the order.

kitchen staff members

Other Essential Kitchen Terms

“All day” is just one of the popular slangs that have emerged in restaurant kitchens. If you’re looking for a job as a Cook or Chef, becoming familiar with all kitchen terms is important. With that said, let’s look at other essential words and phrases you might hear in kitchen settings.

86

When an item from the menu has been 86ed, it means the kitchen has completely run out of it. It’s used to communicate this problem with servers and ensure they take no more orders of that specific item.

Behind

When working in a kitchen, you might often hear other team members shouting “behind”. This indicates that they’re passing behind you and it helps avoid collisions. Safety is critical in kitchen settings and this quick shout ensures no one gets injured.

You can often hear kitchen workers use this shout when carrying a full tray of food or a rack of glassware.

Other variations include “sharp behind” and “hot behind”, indicating that another worker carrying a knife, a hot pan or something else that can harm you is passing behind.

kitchen worker carrying food

Covers

In the kitchen environment, “covers” is used to indicate the number of people being served in the dining room. The number of “covers” helps Chefs and Restaurant Managers determine what the next shift will be like.

It can also be used to make projections on how many orders will be served and ensure there are enough ingredients in the kitchen stock.

Dead plate

When a dish has been prepared incorrectly or there’s something else wrong with it, it’s a “dead plate”. This term tells Servers that they shouldn’t take it to customers.

“Dead plates” are sometimes considered fair game for Cooks, Servers and other staff members to eat, but this is usually down to the restaurant’s specific policies.

In the weeds

When a kitchen staff member is really busy and has a hard time keeping up, they’ll say they’re “in the weeds”. This is common in busy kitchens and helps indicate that a staff member cannot take on new tasks at the moment or could use an extra pair of hands if someone is available.

Mise

“Mise” is short for “mise en place” which is French for “everything in its place”. Cooks and other kitchen staff members use this to indicate that all the prep work is finished. The term can also extend to preparing all kitchen equipment such as Chef knives, other utensils, notebooks and similar.

On deck

When an order is “on deck” it means that an order is either ready or close to being ready. For example, when a Server comes to deposit a new order ticket, the Chef may tell them that another order is “on deck” and they can take it to customers.

On the fly

When you need something “on the fly” it means you need it right away. It’s often used when a staff member forgets something and suddenly remembers. “On the fly” indicates that an order is a top priority and needs to be handled as quickly as possible.

You’re most likely to hear this term being used during peak dining hours when many dishes are being prepared.

SOS

You might think “SOS” is a cry for help in the kitchen but this term means something entirely different. It’s an acronym that stands for “sauce on the side”. When orders are keyed in words, it’s a shorter way of giving clear instructions on the way a dish is being prepared.

sauce on the side

Waxing a table

In restaurants, “waxing a table” means giving a specific table special treatment. It’s used when there’s a VIP guest like a celebrity or a regular customer who is known for tipping well.

You may also hear Servers and other restaurant workers use this term when a food critic arrives at the restaurant.

Adopting Kitchen Lingo as an Aspiring Chef

If you’re getting ready to become a Chef and are looking for Chef jobs, learning the kitchen lingo in advance is a smart move. That way, you’ll know exactly what your team members want to say when they use one of these terms and delivering all of the orders on time will be easier.

After all, this lingo has been introduced for a reason. It’s there to create more efficient communication and ensure all team members are on the same page.

Even if you don’t get something right on day one, you can learn from it and ensure you use the jargon correctly next time.

It’s also a good idea to learn the differences between roles to have a better understanding of everyone’s responsibilities and places in the kitchen hierarchy. For example, Chef and Cook are sometimes used interchangeably but are two entirely different positions.

Final Thoughts

Now you know that the term “all day” is used to indicate the exact number of orders of one dish at a specific moment. By understanding this and other kitchen lingo we mentioned, you’ll be equipped with everything you need to communicate with kitchen staff efficiently and reliably.

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