At Home with Vita is a monthly interview with artists, designers, and friends who inspire us. This month's Q&A is with Benjamin Reynaert. Benjamin began his career in publishing at Martha Stewart Living within the crafts editorial department. Since then he has held market editorial and interiors styling posts at Architectural Digest’s AD PRO, ELLE Decor, House Beautiful, VERANDA, Traditional Home and One Kings Lane. He is currently style director at domino Magazine and continues to hone his passion for visual storytelling and content packaging strategies across print, digital and social platforms, including his Instagram @aspoonfulofbenjamin.
IL BUCO VITA: Did you find yourself “hosting” for yourself or for your family during the quarantine?
BENJAMIN REYNAERT: Since we’ve all been cooking more and having some extra moments to enjoy meals at home, it’s been quite a pleasure to set the table, even for these informal meals during quarantine, and bring a little bit of beauty to our daily routines.
IBV: What are your go-to “pantry recipes” for last-minute meals?
BR: I’m always happy to have snacks for dinner. I love making cheese boards and loose arrangements of whatever is lying around, fruit, cheese, crackers and any leftovers arranged in separate dishes on a big board always makes things feel a little more thought out and special.
IBV: What are your favorite purveyors or resources for local produce/provisions?
BR: In Jackson Heights, we have countless options for diverse produce markets and butchers and bakeries. I love stopping by the Indian market, Apna Bazaar for unique spices and tropical fruits as well as our Colombian butcher on 37th Street which happens to be a block from my favorite local wine shop, Table Wine.
IBV: What is the first place you hope to visit when COVID-19 is far behind us?
BR: I can’t wait to dine again and make new memories with friends at il Buco!
IBV: Who has influenced your entertaining style?
BR: After years of producing a tabletop and entertaining column for House Beautiful, I’m forever inspired by the beautiful environments Alex Pappachristis creates when throwing a party, especially the holiday buffet story we created and shot with Thomas Loof. Every detail was considered, the platters, the napkin rings and the individual trays for guests. When all of the little things are considered, everyone can have that much more fun and enjoy themselves.
IBV: Can’t have a party without?
BR: A good cocktail, good music and good company -- Candlelight doesn’t hurt either!
IBV: Go to last minute center piece?
BR: If you’re in need of a last minute centerpiece, run outside a clip a few branches from the yard (or street, if need be!). A few indigenous branches in a beautiful vessel can add a poetic moment to the table.
IBV: Where do you find inspiration for entertaining?
BR: I have been finding a lot of inspiration for entertaining in the back episodes of Ina Garten’s show -- it’s endless inspiration for casual and thoughtful gatherings. It’s like going along for the ride of a day in the life of party planning with Ina!
IBV: If you had a destination dinner party, where would it be?
BR: I’d love to set a big table, one block long, outdoors right down the middle of West 4th Street outside of Cafe Cluny. I’d love to host an event one day and have the little west village townhouses literally be the backdrop.
IBV: What is your favorite meal to serve to guests?
BR: Every summer at our Fire Island share house, I love to make and grill Michelle Obama turkey burgers -- the recipe calls for adobo chilis and granny smith apples, so they have this perfect amount of spice and sweetness. Delicious after a day at the beach.
IBV: One word to describe your entertaining style?
IBV: Seated dinner or casual buffet?
BR: Casual buffet
IBV: To decant or not decant?
BR: I decant everything! Including dish soap and mouthwash!
IBV: Stemmed glasses or wine tumblers?
BR: I prefer a mix, a short stemmed footed glass always gets me.
IBV: Favorite piece to include on your table for Summer?
BR: Brightly colored linen napkins, especially these piped Lithuanian linen ones from Madre.
IBV: Whose house would you be the most excited to be invited to for dinner?
BR: Dear Ina, if you’re reading I’ll be waiting for an invite!
IBV: Who has kept you inspired this year?