Catering Lingo You Need to Know BEFORE It’s Too Late!

When working with your caterer, or negotiating a catering deal, it can be helpful to know some of the terminology, or common words, that caterers use. And you’d be surprised just how many of these come from the French language. Just look at this list! Here is some of the catering lingo you need to know.

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Amuse-bouche: The chef may want to surprise you, tempt you or stimulate your palate with a bite-sized morsel called an amuse-bouche. The term literally means to “amuse the mouth.”

Hors d’oeuvres: These are small appetizers served in advance of the main meal.

Canapé: This is a specific type of bite-sized appetizers, often served on a small piece of bread like a baguette slice or cracker.

Apéritif: A generally-dry alcoholic beverage served before the meal and designed to stimulate the appetite.

Bisque: A thick and creamy soup beginning with a shellfish broth.

Croquette: a small round bite created from finely-minced meat, fish or vegetable, dipped in egg and breadcrumbs, and fried.

Escargot: Snails!

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Herbes de Provence: a blend of dried herbs normally found in France’s Provence region that includes rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, and savory. They are normally used in stews or with grilled foods.

Al dente: A term often used with pasta to indicate the length of cooking time that allows the pasta to retain its firmness.

Flambé: The technique of adding alcohol like rum, brandy or cognac to a dish and igniting it to create flames.

Sauté: To cook small pieces of food quickly in a fat over a relatively high heat.

Frenching: The process to remove the meat, fat and cartilage from rib bones on beef, pork or lamb by cutting between the rib bones with a paring knife.

Mise en place: Prepping all the ingredients, like dicing vegetables or measuring spices, and putting them in easy-to-access places prior to beginning the cooking process.

Au jus: A meat served with its own natural juices.

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Au gratin: Meaning a dish sprinkled with breadcrumbs, cheese or both, and browned.

Buerre blanc: A white sauce made with butter and lemon juice, often served with fish.

Roux: A cooked mixture of flour and butter (or another fat) that adds richness and a nutty flavor, along with thickening properties to gravy, sauces, stews and soups.

Filet: A boneless piece of meat, fish or poultry.

Crepe: a flat, thin savory or sweet pancake that is rolled around a filling. Savory crepes can be filled with meats, cheeses and vegetables, and sweet, or dessert, crepes often feature fruits, jam and chocolate.

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Galette: Dough that is rolled out into a circle and topped with fruit, then baked to create an open-faced-type tart.

À la mode: You often hear this French term used when ordering ice cream atop your apple pie. It refers to any dessert topped with ice cream.

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Maison Culinaire—Your International Caterer

Maison Culinaire helps you prepare a catering menu that is exclusively yours—no matter what cuisine you choose from around the globe. As an International caterer, we can prepare foods from almost any country’s cuisine—including French! Our executive chef—Chef Sus—began her cooking career as partner of a French restaurant, and works tirelessly to learn about foods from different cultures.

Now that you ‘speak the lingo,’ give Maison Culinaire a call. When you want impeccable food, artistry and flawless service, there is no other choice than Maison Culinaire. Contact us for catering for your wedding, office, or special event. Serving clients throughout Northern Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC.