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Chef Raymond Blanc gives salmon dish historic flavour
IT WON'T appear on most of our grocery lists and supermarkets don’t yet stock it.
But celebrity chef Raymond Blanc is using sawdust from one of Oxfordshire’s most famous trees to rustle up a new dish at his Michelin-starred restaurant.
The 222-year-old OneOak tree was felled on the Blenheim Estate in January 2010 and while most of the timber is being used for furniture, buildings and joinery, Mr Blanc is using the sawdust to smoke salmon.
The new dish – slow-cooked farmed Scottish salmon, cucumber, Wasabi dressing and pickled mouli – will appear on the menu at Le Manoir aux Quat' Saisons, in Great Milton, later this month.
Mr Blanc said: “When I first heard about the OneOak project I was immediately impressed by the educational aims of the project, and the fantastic stories that are starting to emerge.
“What really interests me is how a locally-grown tree can support so many different local businesses.
“The fact that it is undeniably a very green project too, demonstrating real sustainability, is also very exciting.
“Lastly, but not at all least, it will help to create an even better dish here at Le Manoir.”
The tree was felled in front of 400 people and has since been studied by scientists, who weighed the tree and have calculated its carbon content.
The project, run by the Sylva Foundation, saw 250 county schoolchildren return to the site in January this year to plant a new oak forest of 250 seedlings.
Project manager Dr Gabriel Hemery said: “Using the sawdust and wood shavings from the OneOak tree to smoke food demonstrates the sustainable nature of growing and using trees, especially when they are used locally.
“What could have been seen as a waste product, the by-product of creating wood items, has instead produced something of high value, culturally and economically.
“We are so pleased to have been able to demonstrate this in such a powerful way thanks to the enthusiastic support of Raymond Blanc and his team at Le Manoir.”
Furniture maker Rodas Irving, owner of Oxford Oak in Toot Baldon, is providing the sawdust courtesy of a bench he is making from the timber.
He said: “I have always liked using locally grown oak for my benches because it cuts down on miles and my clients love the idea of their bench having grown nearby.
“When I was offered the chance to get involved in the OneOak project I jumped at it. It was especially interesting for me as I would be able to follow the whole process from standing tree to finished product.
“Usually I first get to see the timber only once it gets to the saw-mill.”