Name of business; Porky Wow!
Type of business: Take-out restaurant
Location: 145 S Kilroy Rd, Turlock
Hours: Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 6:30 p.m., closed on Mondays
Contact information: (209) 585-0424
Specialty: Pork confits (Chicharrones)
History of business: Fabricio Bernal of Modesto is well experienced in the food industry and in the world of wholesale food operations. During the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, Bernal was let go from his longtime job as director at Gaytan Foods. Nevertheless, the bump in the road is not stopping him from putting delicious food on plates.
Earlier this year, Bernal and his family opened up PorkyWow!, serving pork rinds and confits, better known in Spanish as chicharrones. But it’s not your traditional restaurant or storefront.
PorkyWow! is located at 145 S Kilroy Rd. in Turlock within the city’s food truck commissary, with no place for customers to sit down. It is just one small room within the large warehouse. Bernal explained that he is settling for the ghost kitchen as he awaits permits to open a food truck and to become a nationwide distributor.
“I’ve been in this business for a long time,” Bernal said. “I’ve noticed that there is a market for chicharrones. My original idea is to wholesale and to sell them to restaurants and bars. In order to do that, you need a federal, USDA permit, which is why I’m here.”
Operating with limited space in an industrial setting is the reason why PorkyWow! only offers takeout and Doordash delivery options. He believes the lack of convenience as he waits for the permits has turned many people away, but it’s the customers who have tried it who have kept him afloat.
“I realize that I’ve lost some potential customers because the kitchen is hard to find and it can be confusing, but there have been people who have tried it and they keep coming back wanting more, which tells me that I’m doing a good job with the food itself,” Bernal said.
Part of the appeal to Bernal’s culinary creations is that they are not made the same as traditional chicharrones. Bernal, who participated in UC Merced’s business incubator program, has turned to modern technology to unload a mouthful of flavor in each of his orders.
Inside the small room, there is a flash freezer and a flash oven. Bernal believes that these are technologies that have grown in popularity across the restaurant industry.
“This state-of-the-art technology makes all the difference,” he said. “The flash oven is a mix of a microwave and convection oven… The flash freezer is important too because frozen foods tend to lose their flavor when placed in a regular freezer, but this preserves it all.”
And not only does the technology bring out the best flavors possible, but Bernal believes it’s healthier.
“Chicharrones are viewed a lot as snacks and being very unhealthy,” he said. “When they are fried, they are very greasy, heavy and hard to digest. This oven keeps the juices and flavors from leaking out and there is no added oils or grease.”
In the kitchen, Bernal has also spent time experimenting with new flavors and products, including ribs. With the modern culinary technology, the possibilities thus far have been plentiful.
“If you love meat and pork, this is heaven for you,” he said. “Once you give us a chance and try them out, you’ll understand immediately.”
Bernal hopes to have his food truck operating by mid to late December. Meanwhile, he is still anxiously waiting to get his permit to wholesale with pork confits to restaurants and bars, as he believes that there is untapped potential using chicharrones as appetizers.
“It’s been a wild experience for me, but we just have to adapt,” he said. “My original idea of selling to the bars, markets and restaurants, it will still happen. We already have several businesses lined up, so we just have to wait a little bit longer.”