Editor’s note: The author is partner, Pecinka-Ferri Associates, a foodservice equipment agent in New Jersey. The guest column is part of The Schechter Report and NRN’s content partnership, and the views do not necessarily reflect those of Nation’s Restaurant News.
Stay in this business long enough and you’ll end up speaking Kitchen-ese. For example:
“I need a grill.”
“A griddle or a char broiler?”
“Just a grill.”
“Upright, range-match, counter model or free-standing, flat-top or grate-top, what length, on casters or legs, cast radiants, cast grates, what grid spacing, chrome or cold roll steel, round or scround, grooved or flat, safety pilots, piezo or electronic ignition, gutter location, service shelves, overshelves, lower rack , char rocks, radiants, smoke box, electric, propane, natural gas, back shelf, with or without slip-on covers, side and back extensions, low profile, gas hose (how long?), oven base, storage base, refrigerator base?”
“A grill, just a standard grill.”
“Can you cook an egg on it?”
Each segment of our business has its own vernacular. At times, it seems as if we aren’t even speaking the same language – and usually we aren’t.
If you are not familiar the equipment jargon of one group, the parlance of another may resonate with you. The foodservice industry is anything but monolithic. The paths that each of us have taken are rich with both ethnic and culinary traditions. In spite of these differences, we do manage to communicate. Sort of.
One’s man’s “bain marie” is another’s “steam table;” yet, to someone else, the same equipment is a “refrigerated sandwich unit”. Is it a “salamander” (a curious term unto itself), a “cheese melter” or a “finishing oven?”
We all have “86’d” a menu item, but do we know where the term originated?
If we want a “speed rack,” is that something that holds “bun” (“sheet”) pans or liquor bottles? Is the fabricator’s “double overshelf” on a “chef’s line” (AKA a “front line”) a “pass” or a “window”? Is a “spatula” something that you use to decorate a cake or to turn burgers and pancakes? Is it a “stove” or a “range”?
Even our descriptors can be misleading: “Standard,” a term that I’d encourage all of us to eliminate from our foodservice equipment vocabulary doesn’t exist. “Custom” carries the stigmas of being high-priced and un-returnable. “Modular” leaves us flat.
Then, there are those pesky culinary terms. Did you ever try to use them in a sentence? Let me take a stab at it:
Last night, just as I was playing my mandoline (in order to amuse bouche), a monkey dished out an offal lagniappe. Then Sirloin, a barista from the brigade, told me to grab-and-go. He was a real Jamaican Jerk. I didn’t relish the thought. In fact, I’d rather have eaten poisson. I knew that I’d mise en place. If only they’d given me one more chance to tocque the whetstone or the brix…
The boner that I made was to travel confit and not a la carte. It was icing out, and deglaze just slowed me down. I really should have enrobed, donned my china cap, saddled my veal and peeled like a pizza.
I needed to be whisked to sommelier else. How about sous?