Most weekends, Joshua “Chef” Andino can be spotted near the Five Points College Mart until the wee hours of the night as he slings chicken kebabs and tacos from his provocatively named food stand Slutty Chicken.
Andino, 27, has been at it for about a year, growing a number of regulars and doing, as he described it, what he loves to do. The pandemic and its dampening effect on Five Points' nightlife slowed things to the point that he considered shutting down, but with the pairing of determination and a dose of luck in the form of an $18,000 order, he’s here for the long haul.
“It's been a fun journey ... I’m doing what I love doing. I love cooking, I love supplying good food to people,” he said. “I love the fact that we’re just a part of the community, it’s a local business, you know.”
That $18,000 order came by way of entrepreneur and celebrity business personality Marcus Lemonis and his program Plating Change, which aims to help out struggling restaurants while feeding free meals to food-insecure people.
On Jan. 30, Andino will host his second food event as part of the order, as he plans to feed roughly 500 people in tandem with Word of God Church and Ministries and other local organizations. The upcoming service follows another where he said he delivered meals to various people.
“It’s been life changing, meeting so many people and listening to stories from people, just sitting there and talking to the time to listen to people,” Andino shared.
Andino’s mother, who operates Irmo’s Cake Collection Botique, shared Lemonis’ program with him and told him to pursue it. In December, Andino was able to get on a phone call with Lemonis and explain his business model.
At first, he said he was worried that a food stand wouldn’t be a good fit for his program, but the conversation went well. They talked about the business, what the day-to-day operations look like and the menu.
In the end, Lemonis placed an order for roughly 2,000 meals.
“I was extremely nervous,” Andino said. “It was what needed to happen because it’s going to help keep the business open.”
Beyond his Five Points services, Andino also does catering through Slutty Chicken and said that empanadas are an integral part of that. He’s bringing those — 4,000 of them — along with helpings of rice and green beans, to the Plating Change events.
With Puerto Rican heritage, he expressed that the meal harkens to the familial nature of Latin meals. As another ode — and on Lemonis’ recommendation — Andino is naming the dish the Iris Plate after his mother, who will also be helping cook at the Jan. 30 event.
“You have to understand, she’s why we got this order,” Andino exclaimed.
Andino took over the food stand after its previous owner left the business. He said he previously tried running a tax business, but found it unfulfilling. Once he took over the stand , he settled on the name Slutty Chicken, drawing inspiration from restaurants in other cities like eggslut on the West Coast or Bacon Bitch in Miami, and from his eponymous sauce that he claimed is very popular.
The "invisible" nature of his setup in Five Points, which effectively disappears on off days, also pushed him to pick a splashy name.
“It's just like this provocative concept,” Andino said.
While he declined to point to specific plans for the money from the Lemonis order, he said it will definitely help his business survive and continue to grow, along with feeding his family and workers. He hopes is to eventually open a storefront.
“We plan on going out there to Soda City on Saturdays and just having fun with that for a little moment, but yeah brick and mortar in the future,” Andino concluded.
Slutty Chicken is open from Thursday to Saturday from 8 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. The stand will be closed this weekend as Andino prepares for the Jan. 30 event.