May 27, 2021
Faces of Fauquier: Butcher leaves nothing to waste
Photo/Don Del Rosso
“I hope in the little village of Marshall that we’ll continue to have more fun shops and restaurants and walkable streets and fun places to hang out,” Amanda Luhowiak says.
Sometimes, people want to buy ostrich, alligator and this, that and the other. I can certainly source almost anything that someone wants to try.
In the Marshall butcher’s hands, nothing goes to waste.
Amanda Luhowiak, 40, would have it no other way.
“I love being able to take a whole, entire animal and break it down into usable parts and pieces,” explained Mrs. Luhowiak, who with husband Derek co-owns The Whole Ox, a custom butchery at 8357 W. Main St. in the Northern Fauquier village. “We’re really using absolutely everything — every little piece of the animal.”
The Whole Ox even uses rendered beef fat to flavor fire-fried chicken sandwiches and French fries.
Offering about 100 cuts, the shop carries beef, pork, lamb, chicken, bison, duck, turkey and sometimes rabbit.
Whenever it can, The Whole Ox uses “locally-sourced” products, Mrs. Luhowiak said.
“We try our best to stick as local as possible,” she said. “And local, to us, means Virginia, Pennsylvania and Maryland — all of these farms that are around the district that are not like a million food miles away.”
Among Fauquier-based sources, the shop relies on Whiffletree Farm near Warrenton for chickens and Hidden Creek and Hill Crest farms — both near Delaplane — for eggs and lamb, respectively, Mrs. Luhowiak added.
The Whole Ox takes special orders and can satisfy most requests.
But, occasionally, they prove exotic and impractical.
“Sometimes, people want to buy ostrich, alligator and this, that and the other,” Mrs. Luhowiak explained. “I can certainly source almost anything that someone wants to try. But it winds up not being economically viable, traveling so many food miles. So it’s not really something that I want to promote.”
The shop also carries a wide range of wines, locally-sourced cheeses and “house-made” items such as soups, stocks, sauces and pot pies.
Besides fried chicken sandwiches and French fries, The Whole Ox menu features hamburgers, soups, deli sandwiches and a wide range of charcuterie. (Primarily prepared pork items, charcuterie includes bacon, ham, sausage and pâtés.)
Opened in 2011, The Whole Ox has a dozen employees, including the Luhowiaks, who share the title of head butcher.
Three years earlier, the couple started their first business — a food cart called Local 647 that featured hamburgers, salads, cheese and charcuterie plates.
“It was actually wildly successful,” Mrs. Luhowiak recalled. “But at that time we could not find a prep kitchen to work out of, which really launched our wanting to have a more permanent location” and ultimately the establishment of The Whole Ox.
Classically trained, Mr. Luhowiak worked as executive chef at the 1,000-acre Ayrshire Farm near Upperville before the couple opened the food truck.
Mrs. Luhowiak, whose experience includes two years as front-of-the-house manager of the Robert Trent Jones Golf Club at Gainesville, learned to cut meat from her husband and through stints at butcheries and meat processing facilities.
Co-owner/head butcher, The Whole Ox, Marshall, 2011-present; co-owner of food truck Local 647, 2008-10; front-of-the-house manager, Robert Trent Jones Golf Club, Gainesville, 2006-08.
Husband, Derek, 44; parents, Tommy and Laura Wyne of Marshall.
Bachelor’s degree, child psychology, University of Tennessee, 2004; associate’s degree, liberal arts, Lord Fairfax Community College, 2002; Fauquier High School, 1999.
• How long have you lived in Fauquier?
My entire life — outside the two years I was in Tennessee for school.
• Why do you live here?
My family history. On my dad’s side, we can trace our lineage back to the late 1600s. So the Wyne family has been in Fauquier for a very, very long time.
Once I got my bachelor’s degree from Tennessee, I just thought it was a good time to come back home and kind of re-evaluate what I wanted to be, and I met my husband in 2007. He had moved to this area from Pittsburgh a couple of years before that. And, we just really loved the area. It’s so beautiful.
• How do you describe this county?
A rural oasis. We’ve got a little bit of everything — the farming, the agriculture, the equestrian scene, the outdoor activities as far as hiking and biking and camping and all of that stuff.
If I had to sum it up in two words — absolutely beautiful.
• What would you change about Fauquier?
I would like to see it become a little bit more progressive — having more access to more arts and entertainment.
If there was one thing I absolutely had to change it would be more access to affordable housing. We live in a very beautiful place where it’s only getting more and more expensive to live.
• What do you do for fun?
My husband Derek and I like to take our dog on hikes at Sky Meadows (State Park near Paris) or up on the Appalachian Trail.
We have a little pizza oven on our deck and love to — post-COVID — entertain our family and our friends. So just that quality time spent with the humans that I love.
• What’s your favorite place in Fauquier?
My parents’ house.
• What will Fauquier be like in 10 years?
I think much of Fauquier is going to be unchanged.
I think those things I love about it — the nature, not tons of development — are all going to be the same.
I hope in the little village of Marshall that we’ll continue to have more fun shops and restaurants and walkable streets and fun places to hang out.
• Favorite TV show?
“Law and Order”
• Favorite movie?
• Favorite book?
“The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment” by Eckhart Tolle
• Favorite vacation spot?
• Favorite food?
• What is the best advice you have ever received? From whom?
Always be true to myself and to follow my heart. That came from both of my parents.
• Who’s your hero and why?
My husband, Derek. He always brings a sense of challenge for myself to be a better person and to always learn and continue to grow.
• What would you do if you won $5 million in the lottery?
Take me and my staff on a very extended and at least month-long vacation — probably some place warm, with water and boats.
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