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Interview with Valentine Benoist - MHVC x Provisions collaboration

This Spring, we are delighted to launch a collaboration with a long-time regular, neighbour and friend of Provisions: Valentine Benoist, from My Hungry Valentine Ceramics. She has created a beautiful collection of bespoke homeware ceramics based on Provisions colours, for you to use at home.
For the launch of the collection, we have talked to her about her work, food, ceramics, more food, and a bit of wine.

 

Tell us a bit about yourself! What is My Hungry Valentine? And My Hungry Valentine Ceramics?

I am a French food writer-cum-ceramicist based in London, I dedicate about 50% of my time to each of them, moving more towards ceramics at the moment. My Hungry Valentine is my food & drinks consulting agency, which started as a restaurant review website a few years ago. Under My Hungry Valentine Ceramics Studio, I make everyday tableware in my East London studio.

 

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What is your story with ceramics?

I’ve always been that kind of person looking under the plates in restaurants, to see who made those. If you pay attention to the producers you work with, the winemakers you work with, then surely you wouldn't’ buy your plates from Ikea, would you? Highlighting the makers restaurants team up with has always been part of my food writing practice. My interest in ceramics grew more and more, and I first signed up for an evening course in 2016. I’ve been hooked ever since, and moved to the shared studio I’m still operating from in 2018, teaching myself how to make imperfectly beautiful tableware to use everyday. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of knowing people use my wares in their day-to-day life.

 

How did you manage your production during the lockdowns?

It’s been quite interesting, to say the least! I’m lucky enough to have an outdoor space at home, so I quickly set up a garden studio to be able to keep making as much as I could, carrying boxes and boxes of plates from my house to the studio kilns on the overground! I can’t even count the number of things that broke along the way… The studio is now back to normal opening hours - being able to work smoothly is the best feeling!

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What do you like the most about this process?

It’s a veeeery slow process - I’m not a very patient person, so it teaches me that to start with. My favourite part is the very beginning, when the piece starts to take shape.

 

What is the story behind this collaboration?

That’s a good question! I live nearby and we’ve known each other for a few years now with Hugo, since he started stocking my book À Tables London at Provisions. We’ve discussed many ideas and projects since like pop-up dinners inspired by the book, PX+Festival… With Laura (Laura Jalbert, who is in charge of the photo and communication at Provisions), we’ve also worked on many food styling projects for my clients! And since the launch of My Hungry Valentine Ceramics, she has been a great supporter. Before Christmas, I suggested they may take a few pieces in the shop, it didn’t work out in the end but we decided to wait and create a proper range for Provisions in 2021. Here we are!

Discover and shop the collection here.

 

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Your favourite piece from the collection?

It’s like having a favourite child, how can I answer that! I have a soft spot for the gloss white dip bowl for literally any use any day, and the midnight blue cheese board for special occasions...

 

Can you describe your ideal dinner?

It would be a long, lazy, boozy luncheon by the seaside - any seaside would do right now, but especially the remote Brittany spot I’ve been spending my holidays for as long as I can remember. I’ll bring a joyous mix of friends and family together, and we’ll all feast on oysters whilst a whole suckling pig is roasting in a corner. Local cider and craft beer, Catherine and Pierre Breton wines flowing… I’m off, I need to start organising!

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What food makes you the happiest?

Good bread, good salted butter, good saucisson. Simple things.

 

What is your go-to restaurant in London?

I love them all, but Trullo will always hold a very special place.

 

What are your favourite products from Provisions?

CHEESE - That gorgonzola dolce gets me every time. How can you resist? To eat directly by the spoonful, obviously.
MEAT - I love the thin slices of Italian cooked ham with herbs, it’s a staple in my house.
DELI - The tinned fish from Portugal. I was first drawn to the beautiful packaging, but the whole range is super tasty too, especially the tuna in olive oil.
WINE - any wine by Nicolas Renaud: so juicy, aromatic and beautifully made, they fit every occasion, from a picnic to a diner with friends.

 

 Discover and shop the MHVC x Provisions collection here.

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Photography by Laura Jalbert

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