Tuesday, September 29, 2009

A Chocolate Revolution in Brooklyn

(Above and below) The Mast brothers.

Using Florentine brand papers from the Italian paper-maker Rossi, the Mast Brothers have given a quality look to their packaging. For a new business just getting off the ground, it’s a good move.

MICHAEL AND RICHARD MAST MAKE CHOCOLATE THE OLD FASHIONED WAY. And this is no hollow advertising slogan. These guys make their chocolate like 19th century artisans, a small shop making small batches. According to their Website, Mast Brothers Chocolate is the ONLY “bean to bar” chocolate makers in NYC and one of only a handful of chocolate artisans who do this in the entire United States. I call that significant.

Why is this significant? Part of what this blog is all about is passion. Passion to do something that you believe in; moving ahead at the risk of failure—something done in spite of others who say you can’t. I have showcased artists and dreamers, products that inspire not only me but others, architecture that dares to be different and sustainable products that recognize our ever pressing need to save our planet. Forgive the play on words, but Mast Brothers Chocolate fits that mold for me. What they are doing is about passion and we need more of that. Here’s a company who’s original intent is about making the best chocolate a person might taste. The brothers may find success beyond their wildest dreams if they never compromise on the quality of their product. Of course, “success” to these young entrepreneurs will have its own definition—and it may not be about money.

Speaking of chocolate, what have we Americans grown up on? Hershey’s chocolate would be the most common answer, if you can call it chocolate.
Did you know that an actual Hershey’s “chocolate” bar contains only between 4% and 10% chocolate? Yep. The rest of it is various sugars, emulsifiers, milk solids, and other fillers.* (WikiAnswers.com)

The Mast Brothers chocolate is described as “handmade in delicate batches,” with 70% cacao! To accommodate this statement, their Brooklyn shop is only open on weekends and they ship (small batches, of course) to a handful of small shops around the country. In terms of packaging, they have simply wrapped their fine chocolates in pre-existing Florentine papers, by the Italian paper maker Rossi (who has been making fine papers since 1931)—not a bad choice for a new business like theirs. This is not to say that they will not need to create their own, uniquely branded packaging someday—but for now they have made a sound choice.

Bio: Rick Mast is a classically trained musician, playing piano and as an amateur—the banjo. He culled his culinary craft in heralded NYC kitchens such as Gramercy Tavern, Soho House, the Outermost Inn on Martha’s Vineyard and under Jacques Torres at his Manhattan chocolate factory.

Michael, prior to his career in chocolate, spent many years in finance for independent film and television in New York. Making chocolate was a studious hobby. Now, combining his love for cacao, travel and photography, he makes many trips to South America—selecting only the finest chocolate beans for his shop. Most of the cacao beans are sourced from small family farms in places such as Madagascar, Venezuela, Dominican Republic and Ecuador.


Maureen said...

Allergic, but lovely. Would eat some if I could since I'm in the neighborhood.

Jan said...

I'm in total agreement with your views on passion.
Love their packaging.
As you may know we are passionate about chocolate over here, and I know many in the US have developed a craving for some of ours rather than Hersheys.
I've not tried it (though it's available) and I'm not likely to now :)

riv said...

Here in the Boston area, something similar is happening with Taza Chocolate. I took a tour of their factory a year ago or so--they have a page on their website with descriptions and pictures of the process, but it's nothing compared to seeing the old machines running and smelling the roasted beans!

Unknown said...

Oh, man, thanks for the information! I'm going to one of the stores that carries their chocolate as soon as work ends today...

Hannah Stephenson said...

Good lord...YUM!!! And the wallpaper-esque packaging is perfect.

Here in Vancouver, I'm obsessed with Mink:

Their "Open in Case of Emergency" (Mint/Bourbon/Dark Chocolate) is AMAZING. So is their Campfire one and Peace in Provence. Their branding is also beautiful, but goes for the more modern look.

South City Shiner said...

I'm really diggn the amish look they have going on ... :)

Amanda said...

I really love the Mast Brothers packaging, I think it works perfectly.

Also thanks to Storialist for the link to Mink, I'm from Vancouver as well and I had no idea such a wonderful place existed!

Ria said...

I loooove these. The packaging is absolutely inspired.

perpetuawhimsica said...

I need a bar of that right now!

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