System D is a shorthand term that refers back to the French word débrouillard, (one who is) skilled or resourceful at handling any difficulty. System D refers to a manner of responding to challenges that requires one to have the ability to think fast, to adapt, and to improvise when getting the job done.
The term gained popularity after appearing in the 2006 publication of Anthony Bourdain's The Nasty Bits. Bourdain's sous-chef likens the use of System D to being a modern-day MacGyver ... getting the job done with a mix of whatever resources are available and a great deal of personal innovation.
In The Nasty Bits, Bourdain references first coming upon the term while reading Nicolas Freeling's memoir, The Kitchen, written about Freeling's years as a Grand Hotel cook in France.
* débrouillard (2009). Webster's New World College Dictionary. Retrieved May 24th, 2009, from www.yourdictionary.com/d-ebrouillard
* Bourdain, Anthony (2006). The Nasty Bits. New York: Bloomsbury.
* Nicolas Freeling (1970). The Kitchen. Hamish Hamilton, Ltd.
Janice is the queen of System D ... she ran out of hair pins and used paper clips as barrettes when styling Audrina's hair for her prom.
The contestants on The Amazing Race were totally System D-ing it when they ran out of money and had to barter to pay their cab driver.
The things cooks who are in the weeds do to get caught up. Includes deep-fried steaks, questionably sourced ingredients, illicit bouillion cubes, and lots of other things you really don't want to know about when your order gets to the table. Practitioners of System D are known as débrouillards, which in French means "guy who gets you out of trouble".
I really don't want to see what kind of System D shit goes on back there, nor do I want to know how my steak got to the table in five minutes or why it has paper towel marks on it. Shut up and eat.