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Cooking for Servers: Kitchen Stations

For all those servers who want the cooking staff to hate them just a little bit less
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Cooking for Servers is rundown of the most rudimentary aspects of professional cooking. While beyond unnecessary for working cooks, these summaries are intended to educate other factions of the wait staff so that they may better communicate with the BOH.

There are a number of areas in the kitchen that you should be familiar with. Knowledge of these spaces is important because it will allow you to find certain items and accurately navigate the kitchen.

Dry Storage

Dry storage is any space where goods that do not require refrigeration are kept. In many cases there are multiple dry storage locations.

Walk-in Refrigerator

Most establishments will have at least one walk-in refrigerator. This is exactly what it sounds like, a refrigerator that you can walk into. These range in size depending on the establishment, and some larger establishments will even have a walk-in freezer. The health department has very strict regulations for these, including temperatures, and placement of product. For example you wouldn’t place raw chicken on a shelf above cooked chicken, as bacteria from the raw meat can contaminate the cooked meat.

Window / Pass

The window, or the pass (short for pass through), is the opening from the kitchen to the dining area in which finished dishes are placed by the kitchen staff for the serving staff. Sometimes heat lamps are placed in the window to keep hot food hot. This is also where the the expediter work.

Reach-in Freezer

Where frozen items are found. Again this is exactly what it sounds like, a freezer that you can reach into. This will sometimes be in storage and other times be directly on the line, in which case it likely contains items used directly for service such sorbet.


The grill is the station where grilled food comes from. A grill is both a tool, and a method of cooking with intense heat from below, usually using an open flame. This type of cooking takes special care, food can by burnt or take on a burnt flavor very easily. The surface of a grill can vary but is usually made of long straight pieces of cast iron.


Anything that is cooked in a pan comes from this station. A sauté station usually consists of stove top burners, at least one oven, and is often equipped with a broiler called a salamander. Sauté is a method of cooking with moderate to high heat and small amounts of fat or oil.


The pantry station is where most appetizers or desserts come from. This station usually consists of cold items and is sometime equipped with small heating units, such as single burners or small confection ovens. This station is almost always equipped with some sort of refrigeration unit called a salad / sandwich table, which is usually 3 feet or longer and has allows quick access to prepared ingredients.

Garde Manger

Garde manger is a cold food station, and produces items such as cold appetizers, fruit platters, etc. These are generally only found in fine dining restaurants and large operations

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