"The chocolate is dark and bitter, floral and complex."
Friday, March 23, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Thursday, February 9, 2012
Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Tuesday, January 24, 2012
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Friday, November 25, 2011
Friday, September 30, 2011
Tuesday, July 19, 2011
By Susie Wyshak
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
By Jane Herman
Last night at Isa, the new built-by-hand Williamsburg, Brooklyn, restaurant owned by Taavo Somer of Freemans Sporting Club fame, a “feast of friends,” as Somer called it, gathered to celebrate the photographer and T Magazine contributor Todd Selby. In the kitchen, some of Selby’s most beloved chef-subjects — Elisabeth Prueitt and Chad Robertson of Tartine in San Francisco, Martin Berg of Mathias Dahlgren in Stockholm, Russell Moore of Camino restaurant in Oakland, CA, and Ignacio Mattos, who will cook at Isa when its doors open later this month — collaborated on a diverse menu of stunning appetizer-size dishes. Guests enjoyed flatbreads lathered with whipped pork lardo, ricotta baked in fig leaves and dressed with an herby cucumber-garlic sauce, toasted king trumpet mushrooms, pork belly served with roasted beets and watercress, and special Mast Brothers chocolate bars wrapped in quirky, Selby-made paper. Aspiring to make Isa, which means “father” in Estonian, a “melting pot of different foods and cultures,” Mattos couldn’t have picked a more fitting christening for his kitchen. Cheers!
Wednesday, June 15, 2011
By Andrew Grossman
On the Red Hook waterfront next to a container ship carrying 20,000 tons of Ecuadorian bananas, a group of stevedores, sailors and makers of artisanal chocolate spent Tuesday morning unloading 20 tons of cocoa beans out of a 70-foot sailing schooner.
It was the first time a sailing ship had unloaded commercial cargo in New York since 1939, according to one city official.
Two years ago a pair of bearded brothers decided to try importing cocoa for their Williamsburg chocolate factory—which focuses on simple, ecologically friendly sweets—by sail. They hoped it would save energy, help lure environmentally conscious buyers, and, maybe eventually, cost less. Their ship finally came in from the Dominican Republic on Monday night.
"We tend to think of everything as simple as possible," said one of the brothers, Rick Mast. "Why can't you sail it?"
The brothers wanted to get to work unloading right away Monday, but that turned out not to be simple. The piers in Red Hook aren't set up for sailboats, so the deck of the ship was too low for stevedores to safely haul the 150-pound bags of cocoa beans onto dry land. The four-legged rolling behemoths that unload shipping containers, meanwhile, were too large to use. A small crane had to be driven down the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway from Long Island City.
That was how it went for much of the Black Seal's four-week voyage to the Caribbean and back to New York. While sailing ships carrying goods were responsible for much of New York's early development, doing trade that way these days is complicated.
The first problem was finding a cargo ship with sails. Rick and Michael Mast, co-founders of Mast Brothers Chocolate, eventually found the three-masted Black Seal, which Captain Eric Loftfield had spent 25 years building in his Cape Cod lawn as a hobby. Mr. Loftfield spends much of his time piloting ships between Washington and Alaska.
Then they had to figure out where to dock it and unload it. There they had the help of Andrew Genn, the vice president of the New York City Economic Development Corp.'s maritime division. He helped them figure out how to dock the ship at the Red Hook Marine Terminal, in which the city owns a stake.
Once the ship got to New York Harbor, it was slowed down by customs agents who are better acquainted with the mechanics of checking the cargo of giant container ships than small sailboats carrying 20 tons of organic cocoa.
Things were even harder in the Dominican Republic, where officials in the tourist town of Puerto Plata were befuddled by Americans trying to sail away with a cargo hold full of beans.
Rich Falotico, the Mast Brothers' cocoa importer, flew down to help negotiate. He and a representative for the Dominican farmers had to explain to the people running the port, the military and drug-enforcement officers what they were trying to do and that yes, they knew this sort of thing was easier on a big ship with hundreds of metal containers.
"It's a drug route and we've got a sailboat," Mr. Falotico said Tuesday morning on the dock in Red Hook. "It's like: 'What the hell are you guys doing?' "
Eventually the Black Seal departed and made its two-week voyage up the Atlantic Coast to Brooklyn.
Mast Brothers' will turn its cocoa beans into chocolate over the next year. They'll sell it to big-name chefs like Thomas Keller and Dan Barber and in grocery stores like Dean & DeLuca. Mr. Mast estimates that the Black Seal's shipment of cocoa will end up costing 25% to 30% more than usual. But he hopes to repeat the trip again and expects costs to decline as the company make its shipping operation more efficient.
Saturday, April 30, 2011
Tuesday, April 5, 2011
By Hilary Greenbaum
The story of Mast Brothers Chocolate is one of family and one of craft. Rick and Michael Mast, the young owners and proprietors of the company, make organic, artisanal sweets in their Brooklyn-based confectionery. They take great care with their ingredients (cacao beans imported directly from South America), their manufacturing process (time-honored techniques alongside custom-built machinery by a former aerospace engineer) and even their packaging.
“We originally just wrapped our chocolate in butcher paper, in hopes of doing anything we could to communicate the message that chocolate is food — not candy,” Rick Mast told me by e-mail. “We soon realized that the packaging needed something more so we tried to retain the feel of butcher paper but with beautifully designed patterns.” Every chocolate bar they create is hand-wrapped in specially designed patterned paper, one pattern for each of their many flavors. Although understated, the packaging, in its simplicity and thoughtfulness, alludes to the nature of the product it contains.
Originally, the papers used for the wrappers were purchased, but as of last year, they’ve all been designed in house by the owners, their crew, family or friends. The packaging pattern shown above was created by Michael, and being that Stumptown Coffee (their collaborator for this flavor) was founded in Portland, Ore., and recently opened a Brooklyn location, the pattern is a tribute to the bicycle culture of both locales. The anchor pattern for their Almond and Sea Salt bar (at right) was designed by Rick. He notes that it “is a play on old fleur-de-lis patterns commonly used by Italian paper makers with a Mast Brothers twist.”
The increasing popularity of the chocolates has inspired artists from around the globe to submit their own patterning designs and ideas for the Mast Brothers to use, but for now, they’ve decided to “keep it in the family.”
Sunday, February 6, 2011
By Miriam Kreinin Souccar
About five years ago, Rick and Michael Mast started making chocolate from scratch in their Brooklyn apartment to serve at their big dinner parties. Their friends gushed so over the treats that the brothers—two Iowa boys who moved to New York a decade ago to attend cooking school and film school, respectively—decided to turn the hobby into a day job.
They set up shop in a tiny Greenpoint space in 2007 and began scouring the world for the best cacao beans. Two years ago, they moved their operation to a 2,000-square-foot Williamsburg factory.
The duo invites the public to watch them painstakingly make every bar, each branded by the origin of the beans—using a process that takes 37 days and isn't practiced by any other city chocolatier.
Such precision has earned Rick, 34, and Michael, 31, a growing list of fans. Mast Brothers Chocolate sells to 120 stores and restaurants, mostly in the New York area, and has a waiting list of more than 1,500 worldwide. Even President Barack Obama feasts on its creations. The business, launched with $35,000 in savings, just became profitable, and the Masts are expanding their factory in order to triple production.
The brothers and their 14 employees taste their products all day, but say they never feel sick.
“Our chocolate isn't really a candy,” Rick said. “It's more like caviar.”
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Join us and experience New York’s hottest fall tradition with seven bands from chile-loving nations around the world, including Indian bhangra and brass, a Haitian dance fête, and Brooklyn’s own ukulele gals. Sample goodies from today’s hottest chocolatiers and cast your vote at the Chile Chocolate Takedown. Delight in spicy cooking demos by top NYC chefs and enjoy sizzling sauces, pickles, and other red-hot specialties. Don't miss your chance to savor the fiery flavor…Brooklyn style.
Festivities will include live music featuring Brady Rymer and the Little Band That Could, a farmers market with delicious food from local purveyors, hayrides around the property, theatrical performances by Story Pirates, workshops on food and farming, our Seasonal Pie Bake-Off, and more!
Filmed at the chocolate factory
Delta Spirit's Matt Vasquez came through town to play a show at Webster Hall with Deer Tick and said he'd be down for doing an episode. We caught up with him and his friends from Mast Brothers Chocolate where everyone was meeting before heading over to the Dr. Dog show on Governors Island. Just looking at their website now, they have this one quote up from Pete Seeger, "I want to turn the clock back to when people lived in small villages and took care of each other." When we first met with the women's groups in Uganda who were doing just that we told them that we wanted to help but also we wanted to spread their message of forgiveness and example of community to the world - these are women living in a true community, caring for each other in the face of some of the hardest circumstances one can imagine. Matt and the boys from Delta Spirit have been long time advocates for peace in Central East Africa and great friends and supporters of Invisible Children, and when we spoke on the phone and talked about the project Matt said absolutely right away, and thought that he'd like to pass it on to his friend AA Bondy. Many thanks to Matt for this impromptu session, to Kenny from IC for hooking us up, Kalim, and everybody at Mast Bros.
Thursday, September 23, 2010
Inside the Little Chocolate Factory So Good Willy Wonka Would Kill Himself
Interview by Joshua David Stein, Video by Woody Jang
The Mast Brothers make chocolate in NYC. It's one of the very few places that craft bean-to-bar chocolate. It is crazy delicious. With our friends at Eater, we'd like to show you how they make it. And their beards.
A stark contrast to the vast industrial operations of Hershey, Nestle or just any other chocolate company you've ever heard of, they produce around 1,000 bars a day, hand-roasting in a small convection oven, using old school techniques and equipment, like a stone grinder. (With the exception of their winnowing machine, custom-made by a former aerospace engineer. A winnowing machine pulls the shells off the beans before they're ground, essentially.)
While the mega-corporate chocolate industry has looked for ways to make their chocolate even cheaper—going so far as to lobby the FDA so they can replace cocoa butter with vegetable oil and still call it chocolate—the Mast Brothers' chocolate is stripped down and natural. They don't add vanilla (or a chemical version), extra oils or butters, or emulsifiers. What that means is that you can taste the chocolate, and where it comes from—comparing a chocolate from Madagascar to one from Venezuela, you can taste the difference, like the terroir in wine or coffee.
A bar of Mast Brothers chocolate goes for around eight bucks, or you can get taste of it at restaurants like Thomas Keller's Per Se and the French Laundry, or the New York outpost of Blue Bottle Coffee in a mocha. Pricey, but it's worth it, if you love chocolate.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
"It was a little more than a year ago that we embarked on a video series on craftsmanship. Our intention was simple, document the individuals that aspire to create products and services at a higher standard. We chose three different categories to cover. Billykirk, the leather manufacturer, Roman & Williams the interior design and architect firm, and now Mast Brother Chocolate. Oddly enough there was another theme to the series that was unintentional. Each of these small business are bounded by familial ties. The husband and wife team behind Roman & Williams and the brothers from Billykirk and Mast Brothers Chocolate. They are living proof that family can work successfully together."