photo credit: Tuukka Koski
New York has long been a food capital, from the upscale kitchens of our finest restaurants to the bagels and sausages on the street corners. But as anyone who has walked around Brooklyn has figured out, the next chapter of New York’s food history has everything to do with the local, “artisanal” food scene that is making its mark on the city. From the rise of greenmarkets and food fairs to the focus on seasonal ingredients, these products embody a DIY ethos that New York City has had from the very beginning.
The New-York Historical Society’s Museum store is introducing it’s A Taste of New-York History collection of specialty foods produced in New York City and State, including jams, savory condiments, and chocolates. One of those vendors is Mast Brothers Chocolate, whose handmade chocolate bars embody the sustainable, DIY ethos of the current Brooklyn food scene. We talked to them a bit about how they got started, and why you should put down that bar of Hershey’s.
How did you guys first get started with chocolate? What was the market missing that you wanted to provide?
We started really just out of a curiosity for how things were made and there was chocolate, one of the most popular foods on earth and no one really knows how it’s made. And so it began!
Was this always what you wanted to do with your lives?
It wasn’t something that we thought we would be doing when we were kids, but as we both found ourselves in New York we realized that we both wanted to work for ourselves and we became deeply passionate about chocolate.
What made you want to run this business out of New York?
Well, I mean New York is such a hub of community, culture, business etc. We were living in Brooklyn, and all around us people were just as curious as us making pickles, brewing beer, making cheese etc. We were making chocolate from scratch. People started to take notice of what we were doing and we realized people loved it!
The way most people have experienced chocolate in their lives has been through candy bought off the shelves. How do you introduce Mast chocolate to someone whose palate has gotten so used to the average candy bar?
First, I guess we let people know that all of our chocolate is only 2 ingredients, cocoa nibs and cane sugar. Which is why it tastes the way it does. We aren’t adding all of those other ingredients that other companies are. Were are really showcasing the farms and the origins of the chocolate.
How do you think what you do plays into the greater food history of New York?
We were NYC’s first bean to bar chocolate maker to our knowledge, so we feel like that alone stands strong in the NY food history.
What’s your favorite way to serve or enjoy your chocolate?
Open it up, crack off a piece smell the aroma and let it melt in your mouth. Notice all of the complexities that come from just beautifully sourced ingredients perfectly executed.