Chef Robert Stehling’s upcoming project at 1101 King St. will not be named Chickenland. What we and, let’s face it, the greater Lowcountry fowl community, had been hoping would be the chef’s answer to a much needed poultry theme park have been dashed due to trademark issues. 

This is the second time the chef has faced this sort of problem. In 2013, according to, McAlister’s Deli served the owner of Hominy Grill with papers over the use of the name “The Big Nasty” — Stehling’s heaping chicken biscuit topped with cheddar cheese and a heart-stopping cascade of sausage gravy. The restaurant renamed it the Charleston Nasty following the dispute.

And now the chef finds himself trying to come up with a new name for his fried chicken restaurant. But the name issue is merely a setback because it’s obvious this has been a good week for Stehling.

On Wednesday the James Beard Foundation named Hominy Grill a 2015 semifinalist for Outstanding Restaurant. (Stehling is already a James Beard award winner having been named Best Chef: Southeast in 2008.) Plus, the chef is off to South Beach this weekend for the South Beach Wine and Food Festival. We’re told on Saturday night Stehling will take part in the Chicken Coupe, a fried chicken and champagne festival feast. Andrew Carmellini of The Dutch in New York City will host participating chefs John Currence, Frank Stitt, Art Smith, Carla Hall, and the team from Hattie B’s Hot Chicken in Nashville. 

The Chicken Couple will be a chance for Stehling to show off his carefully honed fried chicken skills — he uses a pressure fryer to keep the oil hot and roiling which enables the food to cook faster, i.e. hot and juicy meat every time. Before Stehling’s business partner Dave Uecke came up with the method, the chef would cook up fried chicken to order using skillets on the stovetop, but due to booming business at Hominy that technique made it tough to keep up with demand.

On Sunday, Stehling will be part of the South Beach Wine and Food Festival’s Andrew Zimmern hosted Best of the Munchies: People’s Choice Food Awards. And when he returns next week, the new name of the restaurant-formerly-known-as-Chickenland should be solidified. 

In the meantime, if you want to taste Stehling’s fried chicken prior to the opening of 1101 King St., you can get a bite at Hominy. 

What do you think Stehling should call the new restaurant? 

Stay cool. Support City Paper.

City Paper has been bringing the best news, food, arts, music and event coverage to the Holy City since 1997. Support our continued efforts to highlight the best of Charleston with a one-time donation or become a member of the City Paper Club.