The Right Way To Pronounce 7 Popular Fine Dining Terms

The Right Way To Pronounce 7 Popular Fine Dining Terms

Fine dining borrows a lot of things from French cuisine, including many French terms. You may know what most of these words mean, but do you know how to say them right? This quick rundown will help you avoid feeling foolish when you order your meal.

In this video from the ZAGAT YouTube channel, Eamon Rockey, the general manager of Betony in New York City, demonstrates the right way to say some common fine dining terms, while also explaining what they mean. Here are the words Rockey covers:

  1. Hors d’oeuvre (or-derve): an appetiser.
  2. Amuse-bouche (a-moos-boosh): a small, single hors d’oeuvre.
  3. À la carte (ah-la-cart): “from the card”, generally meaning you can order individual items off the menu.
  4. Foie gras (fwah-graw): fatty liver.
  5. Apéritif (ah-pair-ah-teef): the first thing you drink before a meal. Could be a cocktail, beer, or any other pre-meal beverage.
  6. Du jour (dew-joor): “of the day.” Often used to describe a restaurant’s specials or soup of the day.
  7. Sommelier (saw-mul-yay): a trained and knowledgeable wine expert.

Now you’re ready to order with confidence no matter how fancy the place is.

Fine Dining Tongue Twisters — Stop Saying it Wrong [YouTube]


  • If you were to go to France and say these things the way he’s saying them, it’d be clear you don’t speak French – and they’ll laugh at you the same way English speakers laugh at the French for saying l’amboorgair or the Germans saying “Vee haf vays of making you tok”. Don’t even get me started on how to pronounce lingerie!

    While it’s clear in this case that it is for “American fine dining” (tell me why we need to know how French is pronounced in America?) when providing “phonetic” pronunciations, you have to specify whether it’s for American, British,, or even Australian speakers of English. For example, US pronunciation of “graw” as in foie gras, would be more correct than British/Aussie – which would make it sound terrible. “Du” as “dew”? In British/Aussie English, “dew” is pronounced “dyoo” which certainly isn’t correct. My advice? Get a French speaker to teach you, rather than trying to fake it.

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