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In professional kitchen lingo, a chef or expeditor calling for hands means that the food for a table has arrived at the pass from the cooks and is ready to be sent to the dining room. From there any front of house personnel in the kitchen respond with “hands, chef” and step up to run food.

Expediting chef: “Hands, please”
Food runner: “Hands, chef”
Expediting chef: “Please take cheese burger medium to position 3, chicken cutlet position 2, and a vegetable plate position 1 to table 53.
Food runner: positions plates and calls back “3, 2, 1 table 53 out”

A call for hands could also be expressed as “pick up” or “manos” or “manos à La cuisina “.

In fine dining restaurants, servers and food runners will carry up to three plates at once. If a table has 4 diners or otherwise has more than 3 plates going to it, the chef will call for “hands and follow hands”. After the first runner is given three plates, the “follow” will get the remaining plates to run to the table following the lead runner.

The goal of the kitchen is to put up all food for a table at the same time. If there’s a pasta coming from the pasta station, and a salad coming from garde manger, and a burger coming from the grill, and a steak from the broiler, and a roast chicken coming from sauté, the cooks all work together to ensure that those items arrive at the pass at the same time. The expediting chef will then ensure the quality of the food going out while applying finishing touches like Maldonado salt, herb garnishes, truffle garnishes,and other toppings before calling for hands from the food runners.
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