The Whole Ox’s Derek Luhowiak and His Knife Collection
In celebration of his 25th anniversary in the food industry, Derek Luhowiak will buy himself a knife.
The owner of The Whole Ox already keeps over 80 knives at his butchery in The Plains, plus another five or so at home, and then the three always with him: a multi-tool, a Kuhn Rikon paring knife and a folding-hunting knife.
Those 25 years have taken him from a dishwasher, line cook and culinary student in Pittsburgh (where he’s from), to the meat facility director at Ayrshire Farm in Upperville, a food truck owner, a butchery student in England, a volunteer slaughterhouse worker—and now the showrunner of the three-year-old The Whole Ox.
Luhowiak, 38, wants a knife sculpted for his hand, with his preferences and exact measurements.
It will be the first time he’ll spend more than a few hundred dollars, which he did on his first Heinkel knife set, a steal at $300 (with help from his industry connections).
Luhowiak was in a German knife phase, then switched to Japanese styles. He likes carbon steel; it’s a little softer and picks up a sharp edge. He uses Dexter Russell knives and oils the wooden handle once a month. He owns about 20 different types of knives, like the ski liftshaped breaking knife and a Japanese butcher knife with a long triangle point, beveled on both sides.
Right now he’s into his R. Murphy six-inch utility knife. Says Luhowiak, “it feels like a really weird extension of your hand and I love using it to break down birds.” —Stefanie Gans