A phoenix of a very special kind has risen from the ashes of one of Oxfordshire’s most famous trees – the OneOak tree. The tree, which was felled on the Blenheim Estate as part of an education project run by the Sylva Foundation, is currently being used in the making of dozens of wooden items, including furniture, buildings, joinery, arts and craft. More unusually, legendary Chef Raymond Blanc has selected sawdust and wood shavings from the OneOak tree to produce a dish using “OneOak-smoked salmon” at his Michelin-starred restaurant in Oxfordshire, Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons.
The specially ‘smoked’ slow-cooked salmon will be intermittently on the menu at Le Manoir, from April for about six months, in a dish called Slow-cooked farmed Scottish salmon, cucumber, Wasabi dressing, pickled mouli.
OneOak project manager Dr Gabriel Hemery of the Sylva Foundation 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.” He continued “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.”
Raymond 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 and even better dish here at Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons!”.
One of the first designer-makers to have started work on a wood project using the OneOak tree’s timber is local furniture maker Rodas Irving. Shavings from his workshop were the first to arrive at Le Manoir, the by-product of a green oak bench for a private client. Rodas said “I have always liked using locally grown oak for my benches – it cuts down on miles and my client loves 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.”