Food of the Gods
November 25, 2010 4:23 PM   Subscribe

Mast Brothers [vimeo 8:48] — They began their voyage in their apartment, using a homemade machine to process cacao beans. Over time they cultivated their creation, sourcing beans from family farms in Madagascar, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, and Ecuador. Each bar is handmade with incredible reverence for the process and history of chocolate. They are bound in ornamental papers and golden foil like a collection of rare books. Each bar offers its own story of flavors, and no two are exactly alike.

Roman and Williams — Alesch still renders all of their presentations by hand, a skill he has preserved and honed from an early age. Standefer evolved her skills as a painter into creating sets for the likes of Scorsese. As a team they have developed an approach to creating buildings and interiors that reveres craft and tradition, combined with a contemporary viewpoint.

Billykirk — Brothers Chris and Kirk Bray have been producing leather goods for the last ten years. They launched Billykirk from Los Angeles in 1999, learning their craft from a third generation leather maker. A simple leather strap kick started the business, a decade later their collection has flourished into other offerings that consists of bags, belts, shoes, wallets, hats and other accessories. Since expanding and moving their operation to the East, they've employed a group of Amish leather makers to produce much of their line.

All videos presented by The Scout.
posted by netbros (30 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
They are certainly beautiful videos and they take great care in th production of their chocolate, but after I ordered a variety of their bars I have to say their stuff is for hard ore dark chocolate lovers. I found the stuff so bitter it was almost inedible. It was like eating a bar of baking chocolate.
posted by mathowie at 4:33 PM on November 25, 2010 [5 favorites]

Mmmm.... baking chocolate.
posted by BrotherCaine at 4:44 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]

But is it delivered in a Hummer?
posted by ryanrs at 4:54 PM on November 25, 2010

Each bar is handmade with incredible reverence for the process and history of chocolate. They are bound in ornamental papers and golden foil like a collection of rare books. Each bar offers its own story of flavors, and no two are exactly alike.

I'm sure it's delicious chocolate, but this reminds me of the Acura holiday commercials featuring people with handmade 800-thread-count Egyptian linen Christmas stockings and double-vented, quad-chambered chestnut roasters, post-modern gingerbread houses, live reindeer, personal Santas, etc.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:04 PM on November 25, 2010

Oops, chestnut link.
posted by FelliniBlank at 5:05 PM on November 25, 2010

Life is like a box of Wookie monsters
posted by growabrain at 5:09 PM on November 25, 2010

The hype reminds me of Noka Chocolate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 5:20 PM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]

The hype reminds me of Noka Chocolate.
posted by Chocolate Pickle

Not really. Noka was charging exhorbitant prices and claiming to source their chocolate directly (like Mast actually does!) and produce bean to bar. But they didn't.

Mast is well-regarded and they have about as much hype and cost as much as any other micro-batch chocolate maker. It is worthwhile to take time and learn more.
posted by vacapinta at 5:27 PM on November 25, 2010

I agree that the Mast stuff is for hard-core dark chocolate lovers. As one of those folks myself, I'll take all of Matt's extras.

The sea salt bar is really a beautiful thing. And I am not one to spend $8 for a candy bar in general.
posted by Sidhedevil at 6:23 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

Oh my gosh, the Mast cranberry chocolate bar is a thing of glory. Also, I have a not-so-secret crush on their creators. I want to date a chocolatier.
posted by functionequalsform at 7:06 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

For the lazy (hi!) a four minute video that covers the process of making Mast chocolate.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:25 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I can remember all us kids flipping out when chocolate bars doubled from 5¢ to 10¢. Also, those guys look like hipsters to me.
posted by bonobothegreat at 7:28 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

It's interesting, this "brothers as craftsfolk." Another one for the list: The Berley Brothers at The Franklin Fountain.

Those videos are beautifully shot. Really nice.
posted by Alt F4 at 8:09 PM on November 25, 2010

Ah, thank you for reminding me I've been meaning to try their chocolate. Their webpage tells me it is available relatively nearby.
posted by maryr at 8:13 PM on November 25, 2010

Also, those guys look like hipsters to me.

Well, I used to work down the street from them in Williamsburg, and chances are you're right. This does not make them or their chocolate any less awesome, though.
posted by phooky at 8:18 PM on November 25, 2010

Oh wow. Funny. I actually work in the chocolate industry, and have a relationship with Michael and Rick. They are fantastically kind, dedicated, and ethical people. They also make fucking amazing chocolate. Their Patanemo is unrivaled.

Oh, and the ingredients? Cacao beans and cane sugar. No cocoa butter, no soy lecithin, nothin. Vegan because the sugar is NOT bone char refined, and freaking awesome.

At the risk of sounding repetitive, they really are the real deal. I had the chance to meet and visit their place in Brooklyn, and it was fantastic. Here's a photoblog if you are interested. Notice the anchor tattoo in the last shot. obligatory that photoblog is on the website of the chocolate business I work for, and has photos of me and friends and BEARD HAIRNETS in it.

I have more to say on the subject but I'm playing League of Legends with the lovely MeFighters folks and I gotta go own mid with MF. Later.
posted by lazaruslong at 8:18 PM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]

Love the videos, like the chocolate, but Billykirk's products, while of nice leather, look like they were made by kids at camp. Not my idea of craftsmanship, YMMV.
posted by Ideefixe at 9:59 PM on November 25, 2010

Love the videos, like the chocolate, but Billykirk's products, while of nice leather, look like they were made by kids at camp. Not my idea of craftsmanship, YMMV.

I dunno, I'm liking the look of Billykirk's satchel alot. I've been looking for a new 'man-purse', something similar to WWII map cases (which, it turns out, this one was based on). I'd never heard of Billykirk before - I'd love to hear from anyone who has purchased their stuff (or, ideally, that satchel).
posted by Auden at 10:58 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm sorry but Mast Brothers chocolate is poorly made and bad tasting.I've have bars that weren't stable and just oozed cocoa. Combine that with the screeching acidity and I place them firmly in the hipster hype category. And I really really wanted to like them - I love the packaging, like the idea behind it, etc, etc. Even blind to the price its not worth it - and I'm a fan of other bean to bar makers like Taza.
posted by JPD at 4:03 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

How does insisting the beans come by sail add anything but preciousness to the process?
posted by stargell at 4:13 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I have actually never tried Mast. I will probably pick up a bar this weekend since I just discovered that I can get one nearby.

I do admit having a soft spot for Taza but that may only be because rough Mexican chocolate is what I grew up with. A friend visiting London from Boston also brought over the Chocolate disks (to make hot chocolate) which we all really enjoyed.

Really, I think most people should be staying away from chocolate-makers and focus on chocolatiers. It is sort of like the micro-brewery scene. It provides something unique and different for chocolate fiends but if you go into it thinking you are going to have the most delicious chocolate of your life, you will be dissapointed.
posted by vacapinta at 4:23 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

Lazaruslong said " cocoabutter".

What? No cocoabutter means it isn't really chocolate. Cocoabutter is what give chocolate it's texture, and effects how the flavor is spread on the tongue.
posted by Goofyy at 5:43 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

This is the most pretentious thing I've ever seen.
posted by Hartham's Hugging Robots at 6:10 AM on November 26, 2010

Mast Brothers chocolate is tasty and beautifully packaged - well made all the way around. The brothers themselves are really nice, genuine guys who welcome folks into their factory (the tours are awesome), take pride in their work, and produce an excellent product - they're purists with a passion. I just wish that I didn't have to travel so far to get the goods; my newest obsession is with their hot chocolate and cocoa nibs.
posted by mewithoutyou at 8:24 AM on November 26, 2010

JPD - that's funny, that's kind of how I feel about Taza. They're local and I want to like them, but their chocolate always tastes bitter and grainy to me.
posted by maryr at 9:53 AM on November 26, 2010

JPD - I'm sorry but I think you may be conflating your opinion and preferences with an actual quality assessment. Mast Brothers Chocolate is most certainly not poorly made, although the poor tasting assessment is certainly your opinion to offer. But they are not poorly made, and while you may have had a bad experience, they are extremely high quality bars for those of us in the industry who's livelihoods depend on knowing whats out there and what its worth. I'd recommend giving them another shot. Personally I can't stand Taza because I dislike the stone ground texture.

Goofyy - No, cocoa butter does not mean it is not chocolate. Just the opposite in fact. Many times in lower quality bars you will find large percentages of cocoa butter along with an emulsifier like soy lecithin that help with the temper and texture. If you are really good at the last couple stages of the chocolate making process, you don't need it. Perhaps you prefer bars that have the mouthfeel and texture associated with the presence of cocoa butter, but that does not have any significance w/r/t "real chocolate". Cocoa Butter is essentially a by-product lacking in most flavor, theobromine, and caffeine. Also the spread of flavors on the tongue is more influenced by the roasting, grinding, and setting processes. Its the volatilic acids that are causing that dance on your tongue, not cocoa butter.

stargell - Chocolate is an industry that has wreaked tremendous environmental damage on the world when done in a certain way. Hell, just go talk to the folks in Borneo about Hershey's decision to use palm might be surprised. So for those small-business craft chocolatiers out there, it can be tough to find a more ethical way of doing things. Cacao comes from far away, and that takes energy. Insisting that they come by sail reduces their carbon footprint to some degree, but I think most importantly contributes to the overall process of trying to discover ways to conduct the business of chocolate in a more ethical way.

As a final note, to all those who are calling these guys hipsters and pretentious and so on: if you ever met them, you'd eat those words along with some delicious chocolate. These guys started in their apartment and grew a love of chocolate into a business that buys ethically, supports their community, and helps to promote sustainable business ethics to the burgeoning American craft chocolate community. They aren't the first and won't be the last, but they are worthy of respect and for some of us, admiration. It's a scary thing to sink money into far-away cacao beans without the proper equipment to even know if you can make the same chocolate out of them twice. These guys built their own custom winnower. They let anyone who needs a little money to come in and pack the cardboard cases full of their bars for a flat payment per case. They treat their employees very well. They treat their vendors well. I'd ask that you reserve the arm-chair judgment until you've done due dilligence.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:12 AM on November 26, 2010 [5 favorites]

JPD and Goofyy, MeMail me a shipping address and I will send you a bar that will knock your socks off. On the house.
posted by lazaruslong at 10:21 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

no I personally recognize that there is a difference between the different style of Taza and the more traditional style of Mast. I actually prefer the Mast Bros. style to the Mexican-style Taza product. I happen to think Mast Brothers is bad chocolate. I have tried it multiple times. Indeed my wife likes the packaging so much she wanted to give it away as favors at our wedding. I have tasted virtually their entire product line and did not enjoy it. Anecdotally they appear to have issues with quality and consistency. Giving them the benefit of the doubt perhaps its poor handling on the part of the retailer - but then I've never had that problem with other premium brands so that's not really an excuse.

I have an infinite tolerance for hipster preciousness in the name of good food (other than an occasional laugh at its expense), but these guys don't have it figured out yet. The Acid balance is out of whack on most of the stuff I've tasted and they also have issues with astringency. Maybe they'll figure it out but they haven't yet. Also lets not forget at the price point they sell at the peer group isn't cadbury, it's amedei.

Also I've eaten all around the world from Michelin Three Stars to yurt camps on the Jailoo and this IS purely opinion but their black truffle bar is up there with the three worst things I have ever eaten. The other two being caramel coated anchovy stuffed olives, and alcoholic fermented mares milk.

The worthiness of what they are trying to accomplish will always be outweighed by the quality of their product and IMO it just isn't there.
posted by JPD at 10:42 AM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

I wrote a handwritten snail mail fan letter to the Mast Brothers. I believe it made mention of me wanting to roll around naked in their beards.

This is how I learned the lesson that if you really want to have an incestuous male-male-threesome with brothers you should probably not mention it to them because there is a 0% they're going to be be into it.
posted by Juliet Banana at 2:46 PM on November 26, 2010 [1 favorite]

How are they so skinny?
posted by blahblah at 8:21 PM on November 28, 2010

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