There’s some mouthwatering stuff lurking in the woods on the Harewood Estate, whether your tastes run to a Michelin-star dinner, a rustic roast or comforting hot chocolate and a homemade cake

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise . . . Well, that’s if you choose to go down to the woods during one of Harewood Food and Drink Project’s immersive events that is.

It’s this element of surprise that drives Eddy Lascelles, son of the current Earl of Harewood, and brains behind the Harewood Food and Drink Project. ‘I want the food experiences that people have here to be better than anywhere else they’ve been.’ He explains. ‘What I really want to do is blow people’s minds.’

Great British Life: Eddy Lascelles (c) Claire McLeanEddy Lascelles (c) Claire McLean

Born out of a love of produce, it all started seven years ago when Eddy was sat having dinner at home with his wife Sophie, who runs Harewood Holistics, that he realised everything on their plates was either from the gardens or grounds of Harewood’s vast 4,500-acre estate.

Having just moved up from London, leaving his corporate job in the city behind, Eddy had never curated an event before, nor did he have any hospitality experience. Yet, what he did have was ‘a desire to turn Harewood into a foodie destination that showcased the estate’s amazing array of produce, but in a way that was fun and appealing to the contemporary consumer.’

So, in 2017 Harewood Food and Drink Project, or HF+DP for short, was born. Set up separately to Harewood House Trust, HF+DP run immersive events within the estate built all around its produce and the seasonality of it.

Through exciting events, immersive experiences, and celebrity chef collaborations, all using only what is found within the estate, the team have created something pretty unique. But to HF+DP it’s more than just this, as Eddy explains - ‘if we can bring people together to give them great experiences and make new friends, that to me is pretty special.’

Read on to find out where you can taste a slice of the magic . . .

Great British Life: Hidden Harewood (c) Claire McLeanHidden Harewood (c) Claire McLean

Hidden Harewood

Expect an evening unlike any other you’ve had before when you embark upon an unknown journey into the lesser-known areas of the estate during a Hidden Harewood event.

What was HF+DP’s very first event back in 2017 is now their most popular, with tickets selling out in mere minutes. This immersive pop-up dining experience came about through the team’s ‘idea of using lesser-known parts of the estate, moving people between locations and creating a tasting menu using the produce from the land,’ explains Eddy. Offering a fine dining experience with a difference, discover hidden corners of the estate not usually open to the public as you travel to various locations making your way through a menu designed by either guest chefs from top restaurants or the team’s own talented chefs.

Things have come a long way since their first event six years ago when guests had started to arrive early and they weren’t even ready with welcome drinks, but the whole team managed to rally round and pull off a spectacular evening. ‘Looking back on that first event,’ Eddy reminiscences, ‘we’ve moved on so much since then, but the feedback we have is that it’s that feeling you have as a child at Christmas which you don’t get as an adult.’

We can’t give away too much, but it’s wonderful, whimsical, and described by past guests as ‘a true one-off magical experience.’ Happening during the summer months, in the hope the British weather will be kind to them (don’t worry, there’s a wet-weather back-up), the event ran every Friday and Saturday through June this year, but the team plan to run it over at least 12 nights in summer, 2024.

Great British Life: Dinner in the woods (c) Claire McLeanDinner in the woods (c) Claire McLean Great British Life: Produce and Provenance (c) Claire McLeanProduce and Provenance (c) Claire McLean

Dinner in the Woods

Take the trail along the Harewood Estate to be met with cocktails and canapes to enjoy while you drink in the sublime views south to Harewood House. Excitement builds as you await to find out what’s in store. Venture deep into the wooded part of the estate for a rustic dining experience that invites guests to reconnect with nature.

Dinner in the woods is how we’d imagine tumbling down the rabbit hole and ending up at the Mad Hatters tea party, but far more refined, of course – we’re still in Harewood after all. Sit under sailcloth as the smell of smoke from the fire of your feast fills the air in a magical, woodland setting. Music plays, strangers become friends, and from the flame and fire emerges the feast.

Ribs of beef, whole red snappers, and grilled garden peas come fresh off the barbeque to form part of your tasting menu. Creative cocktails, fine wines, and even a drinks pairing accompany this rustic woodland feast. Delicious golden hour sunlight dapples the dressed, stretched out table until the sun sets over Almscliffe Crag making dessert taste even sweeter under candlelight.

This year, the event ran over three nights in one weekend in August, but next summer the plan is to run it over a month, allowing more people to experience the enchantment of this rustic affair.

Great British Life: The Hovels (c) Claire McLeanThe Hovels (c) Claire McLean Great British Life: A dish at The Hovels (c) Claire McLeanA dish at The Hovels (c) Claire McLean Great British Life: The Hovels (c) Claire McLeanThe Hovels (c) Claire McLean

The Hovels

An old stable block in the grounds of the Harewood estate built 250 years ago and designed by the same architects of Harewood House is home to an array of events headed up by HF+DP. The team developed it four years ago by connecting the two buildings together using a glass atrium, while also adding a commercial kitchen and bar. The whole thing is powered by a biomass plant fed by woodchips from the estate’s woodland.

It’s a pretty special place, and a totally unexpected part of the Hidden Harewood experience. It’s also why so many people choose this unique venue to host their celebrations, from weddings to birthdays and even corporate gatherings – it does it all. Plus, there’s the option to stay in one of the 11 holiday cottages dotted around the estate, taking the worry out of assigning a designated driver.

Their signature here, however, has to be their Dining at The Hovels events where top chefs are invited to create a tasting menu based on produce sourced from the estate. Setting the bar high from the offset, their first event welcomed former head chef of Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons in Oxfordshire, which gives you a taste of the exceptional quality to expect here.

Launched just over a year ago, ten guest chefs, many from Michelin star kitchens have been invited to head up a Dining at The Hovels event. A further ten are lined up for the next 12

months with Tom Shepherd, formerly of Noma and winner of his region in the Great British Menu, appearing in September.

As The Hovels is an events space, unfortunately they’re unable to receive a Michelin star, but guests can expect that exact standard with each guest chef being given a list of produce that’s available to create a tasting menu around it. This can be anywhere from seven or eight courses, all the way up to 18, as one chef did last year. You never quite know what’s in store at these pop-up events.

Great British Life: Bistro night at Muddy Boots cafeBistro night at Muddy Boots cafe (Image: Claire McLean)

Muddy Boots cafe

If you’ve ever parked up in Harewood village to walk the circular route around the estate, you’ve probably popped into Muddy Boots for a coffee to warm up after your walk. Acquired by HF+DP in 2018, what was once a bit of a ‘rough and ready walkers café’ is now a bright and welcoming bistro-style place that welcomes a wide demographic from near and far. It’s not only dog walkers that grace the threshold in search of some quality Harwood produce, there’s remote workers, business professionals, parents post-school run, and locals from the village.

The produce is still at the forefront here but expect a more homely affair such as runny egg sandwiches and fluffy chips, all served with a warm and welcoming smile. It’s also a place where you can pick up some pantry staples with a selection of Harewood produce available to buy – we highly recommend the honey!

In true HF+DP style, regular events run here from bistro nights to hearty Sunday lunches – keep a look out on the website to see what’s coming up.

Great British Life: The Harewood Food and Drink Project team (c) Claire McLeanThe Harewood Food and Drink Project team (c) Claire McLean

The Team

Headed up by Eddy, he cannot speak highly enough of his brilliant team that bring HF+DP to life. Working closely with Leeds City College, the project offers a variety of apprenticeships and work experience placements to students looking to go into hospitality. HF+DP’s Events Manager, Josh Flesher, joined the project on a placement when he was just sixteen, and six years later he’s still with the team having been promoted through the ranks very quickly thanks not only to his warm and friendly nature, but as Eddy expresses his ‘unbeatable work ethic and drive.’

Developing young staff and inspiring them is one of the best parts of the job for Eddy who can’t praise his team enough, including Exec Chef Zaal Adams and Head Chef Connor Corrigan, who he describes as ‘two fabulous chefs and even better people.’

Great British Life: Produce and Provenance (c) Claire McLeanProduce and Provenance (c) Claire McLean Great British Life: Produce and Provenance (c) Claire McLeanProduce and Provenance (c) Claire McLean Great British Life: Produce (c) Claire McLeanProduce (c) Claire McLean

Produce and Provenance

‘The starting point is the produce,’ explains Eddy when I first meet him to learn more about the Harewood Food & Drink Project, produce that’s sourced directly from Harewood’s vast 4,500-acre estate full of livestock, woodlands, a walled garden, and plenty of wild food. They’re not commercial farmers, but the quality is fantastic and the ethics behind the food are something to feel good about.

And the choice is rather substantial with highland cattle and Aberdeen angus cows roaming free around the grass-filled fields, Hebridean black sheep, a drift of pigs, plenty of game and 400 wild deer to accompany them. The walled garden is filled with fruit and veg, and the woodlands are alive with wild garlic, mushrooms, and edible flowers. It’s quite literally a foodie paradise.

A resident who lives on the estate keeps six beehives, producing Harewood honey in exchange for lodgings, with the proceeds from the honey used to plant wildflowers near the hives. It’s this care and consideration for the environment that is a big factor for HF+DP with Eddy working closely with brother Ben, a former conservationist, who moved up at a similar time to manage Harewood’s estate. Together they have worked hard to move Harewood on from the old-fashioned estate it was, bringing it into the modern world with values and sustainable practices that are important to them.

Circular economies are a big part of what they do here. Your food is plated on ceramics made using the ash from the biomass in The Hovels that’s fuelled by the woodchips from the woodland and these sit on top of large, wooden charger plates from the same offcuts. Flowers from the wild garden adorn the tables and menus can be torn up and planted to grow wildflowers. Anything they can’t do themselves (and there’s not much) they’ll outsource to local companies. If you find yourself sitting on a cosy sheepskin rug it’s from Westmorland Sheepskins, while the Harewood Gin you’ll likely taste in a welcome cocktail is made by Whittaker’s using botanicals foraged from the estate.

Not only are HF+DP events exciting and delicious in equal measure, but you can also enjoy them with a clear conscious knowing it’s contributing something good to the environment and local economy.

Great British Life: Future events - Magic by Moonlight (c) Claire McLeanFuture events - Magic by Moonlight (c) Claire McLean

The future and upcoming events

The plan for HF+DP is to scale up while retaining the magic of it all. They pride themselves on being a bit of a secret club and those in the know make sure they get ahead of the game to secure a spot at one of their unique events. The best way to do this is by subscribing to the mailing list to be notified of when events go on sale. It’s also a great way of finding out about other pop-up events such as the Terrace Lates and Magic by Moonlight dinners held at Harewood House. Upcoming events include . . .

- Dining Room at the Hovels with Stuart Collins - September 29 & 30

- Dining Room at the Hovels with Alex Nietosvuori - November 17 & 18

- Dining Room at the Hovels with Harry Guy - December 1 & 2, 8 & 9

- Dining Room at the Hovels Burns Night Special with Mark Drummond aka the sausage whisperer - January 26 & 27

Tickets are all sold through the Took booking page -