“You don’t operate a gluten-free bakery, if you merely hope to eliminate gluten from your baked goods at some future date.”. To begin with I don’t know much about craft chocolate so I won’t comment on the subject of the article. The problem wasn't with the chocolate per se, but that what they told the public was not what was happening. As a craft chocolate aficionado, Adler said, “It’s rare that I try something that blows my mind,” but for the rest of us, any craft chocolate blows our minds, because it’s so different from what we’re used to eating. Many skeptical specialists contend that Mast’s Brooklyn location, hipster image, and beautiful packaging are the real reasons for its popularity—not its taste. Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers. When I asked him about experts’ criticism of his bars, he replied, “We are a dangerous company because we are outsiders to the chocolate industry, never leaning on industry norms.” Mast went on, “We have achieved incredible success without paying the self-proclaimed industry chocolate experts that you have cited a penny for their ‘expertise.’ ”. “It had an overly refined, smooth texture that is a trademark of industrial chocolate,” Aubrey Lindley, the co-owner of specialty shop Cacao in Portland, Oregon, told Scott. And you'll never see this message again. “Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers.” In March I wrote a Slate story with that headline, and the past two weeks have proven just how deep that disdain runs. Philippe-Louis Houzé, the owner of L’Epicerie, a specialty-food retailer that imports Valrhona and other fine chocolate, told me that he sold the Mast Brothers “very good chocolate made in France” years ago and continues to sell them “some goods,” though he wouldn’t name the exact products. Their absence is noticeable at events and in groups like the Fine Chocolate Industry Association. It’s a story about authenticity, but Scott’s allegations suggest elements of it might be inauthentic. (They incorporated in 2007. … More chocolate, and more love, please.” On Thursday, they posted an open letter on their website that was less flippant. To be fair, neither do the experts. How did Mast have a dozen almost immediately? The Mast Brothers Backstory. The crème de la crème of the industry includes Rogue Chocolatier, almost universally agreed to make the best bars in the country, with big names like David Lebovitz and Martha Stewart praising its single-origin chocolate. This one, which appeared in Slate, read “Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers.” Personally, I didn’t think chocolate experts hated anybody. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. Most specialty chocolate shops rely on panels of judges to determine which bars to carry, so the straightforward explanation for Mast’s exclusion from these stores is that Mast’s chocolate didn’t wow the judges. “Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers.” That stark headline from a Slate article last spring drew attention to a fact not widely known outside the fine chocolate world. Every Mast chocolate is made from bean to bar, in-house, with organic ingredients. It mentions a four-part food blog takedown of the brand, which itself follows up an article in Slate last year, Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers. During this time, an all consuming passion for chocolate took hold of me, and soon after, I became determined to make my own world-class bars. And like its neighborhood, the Mast Brothers chocolate factory is quite ... (or hate, whatever you want) their website or blog. To give the Mast Brothers the benefit of the doubt, perhaps that’s what they were trying to do at the beginning as well. Mast Brothers, the panifully hip Brooklyn company that makes “artisanal” chocolate bars sold at Shake Shack and other cool places, sparked plenty glee when it was busted for overhyping the quality of the cocoa it once used. “Making his failure to give credit even more audacious,” Scott writes, “Michael Mast purchased his Crankandstein Cocoa Mill directly from John Nanci on March 13, 2008,” according to records that Nanci shared with Scott. The company was founded in 2007 by brothers Rick and Michael Mast, from Primghar, Iowa. Why not foster relationships with other chocolate makers—as is common in the industry—rather than build a silo around themselves? ... Chocolate Expert Blog Says The Mast Brothers are Hipster ... WILCO Hate … The easy answer would be that they’re unscrupulous opportunists, and unfortunately, that’s what a lot of the chocolate industry tends to think. He calls the Mast Brothers the “Milli Vanilli of chocolate.” Scott’s claims raise a provocative question: What if the chocolate world’s poster boys of authenticity started out as big ol’ fakes? 2 pencil? “Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers.” That stark headline from a Slate article last spring drew attention to a fact not widely known outside the fine chocolate world. Slate relies on advertising to support our journalism. Both Yuh and Lauren Adler, the owner of Seattle-based specialty shop Chocolopolis, commented that some Mast bars have an unpleasant chalky texture. Hershey’s somewhat waxy texture and milky flavor defines chocolate for many Americans, even though it’s something of its own creation. All rights reserved. How can the most popular craft chocolate in America be so disliked by chocolate experts? They arrived earlier this week and I have already made my way through most of each bar. Unfortunately, a quick google search revealed that chocolate experts apparently hate the Mast Brothers for their low quality chocolate which, according to one of the articles, is all bark and no bite. “By the way it’s made in Brooklyn, or by the way it’s sun-popped.” BjornQorn has built its reputation on popcorn popped by the sun with giant mirrors (I know, I know), but as demand has outpaced supply, he’s supplemented with conventional methods, all while keeping “sun-popped” on the label. It was a modern-day, hipster Willy Wonka factory, with all the sense of wonder and delight that the fictional king of candy enjoyed. Karine Chrétien Guillemette, who owns the chocolate specialty store La Tablette de Miss Choco in Montreal, said customers care most about the story behind the chocolate—even more than the way the chocolate itself tastes. (Be forewarned that Rogue’s bars are on back order almost everywhere.) Because it’s the most popular craft brand in the country, carried at niche stores and in restaurants across America, consumers think that’s what craft chocolate should taste like. “There aren’t standards like in the wine industry,” said Adler. Just as some enjoy the works of One Direction for the music while others hate them for their marketing machinery, there is seemingly little different, in terms of people’s perception, with these Brooklyn-originated makers. “Astonishingly, given the amount of New York-based media coverage during this period,” Scott says, “no journalist reported having seen the Mast Brothers make chocolate.” The labels themselves had almost no information about the chocolate. December marked the beginning of an onslaught of media stories and online discussions about Mast Brothers, a chocolate maker from Brooklyn, New York.On December 7, Scott Craig of Dallasfood.org released part one of his four-part series entitled “Mast Brothers: What Lies Behind the Beards”, with the rest of the series following shortly after. The answer to that question says as much about our changing tastes in chocolate as it does about the very definition of an expert. In the Mast Brothers cookbook, Michael writes, “[Dan and David Barber at Blue Hill] recognized that what we were doing was new. On a relatively warm day in December, I ventured into the Mast Brothers factory, right behind a tour group. The brand Mast Brothers chocolate first appeared on the market in 2007 first as truffles and later, bars. “People want something extra when you hand them a gift of food,” said Bjorn Quenemoen, the co-founder of artisan popcorn company BjornQorn. You can cancel anytime. The letter may not convince other craft chocolate makers and connoisseurs that the Masts’ simplicity, honestly, connection, innovation, love and respect are real—and not just marketing. the chocolate started tasting radically different, examining photographs of the Masts’ kitchen. March 16, 2015 10:24 AM. “We have been open and transparent about our experimentation, techniques and recipes since day one,” the Masts write, later adding, “Any insinuation that Mast Brothers was not, is not or will not be a bean to bar chocolate maker is incorrect and misinformed.”. Via Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers [Slate], Hot Brooklyn Chocolatiers the Mast Brothers Explode Onto London Scene [E], and All Mast Brothers Coverage [E] … Starting off in their apartment the brothers experimented with different types of cacao and ingredients. Scott says that Rick answered the question himself at the Fancy Food Show in 2008, where Pollard of Amano Chocolate says Mast told him that three of their bars were made with Valrhona. Nobody had tasted chocolate like ours—no dumbing down of the flavors with added butters, vanilla, or emulsifiers.”, The brothers haven’t backed down from their claims of authenticity in response to Scott’s allegations. “The texture was coarse and muddy.” Lindley, the co-owner of Cacao, is more direct: “Most of the chocolate was simply inedible, by my standards.” Scott alleges that this is when the brothers actually started making their own chocolate. Is he trying to trick the consumer? Chocolate judges, authors, and specialty shop owners hold the Mast Brothers in low regard, Megan Giller reported, because the quality of their chocolate comes up short. (Nanci confirmed to me that Scott’s account is accurate, as did Pollard and Gober.). The Mast Brothers, Rick and Michael, have always claimed to make their chocolate “bean to bar,” which means starting with raw cacao beans and painstakingly roasting, grinding, and tempering them into chocolate bars in small batches. Slate, March 2015. )* Most chocolate comes from cheap, over-roasted beans that big corporations sell in bulk to smaller companies for them to process into individual bars. (I interviewed Scott for this article, but he asked that I not use his last name because he doesn’t want his blogging to affect his day job, which is not related to chocolate.) Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers. By joining Slate Plus you support our work and get exclusive content. Mast Brothers is the first bean-to-bar chocolate maker in New York and luckily it’s not in one of those posh neighborhoods in Manhattan, but in the self-proclaimed “hipster capital” of Brooklyn. “This is the good stuff,” the guide told the twentysomething visitors who gazed hungrily at the display table of bars wrapped in brightly colored, patterned paper. If it is the perspective of an expert that you seek, I encourage you to become that expert.”. That makes it easy for Mast to become, in Yuh’s words, “the villain in the industry,” serving as a scapegoat for the chocolate world’s frustration with mediocre products. We don’t have a good frame of reference yet. Though Mast is sold at hundreds of independently owned shops and big-name grocery stores around the world, almost every specialty chocolate store refuses to carry the brand: Cacao in Portland, Oregon; the Chocolate Garage in Palo Alto, California; Bittersweet Café and Fog City News in San Francisco; and La Tablette de Miss Choco in Montreal. I'll admit, I dont keep up with my chocolate reading very well but I did read, with great interest, Megan Giller's informative article on Slate.com last week, "Why Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers." But bean-to-bar makers start with different varieties of raw, high-quality cacao beans to create handmade, artisanal products that are a league above the chocolate most of us grew up eating. And although I haven’t had the opportunity to meet the Mast brothers personally, one of our frequent freelance contributors, Curtis Vreeland, has. “There’s not a sommelier test, and everyone has a different palate.” Her advice to craft chocolate newbies is simply to try a lot of different bars to find out what you like. “When we started we were pretty much having to invent or re-purpose every little bit of equipment that we were using,” Rick Mast said in an interview earlier this year. But Rick Mast has an alternative theory of why most specialty stores don’t carry his brand. Most specialty chocolate shops rely on panels of judges to determine which bars to carry, so the straightforward explanation for Mast’s exclusion from these stores is that Mast’s chocolate didn’t wow the judges. No, he’s simply trying to figure out how to run a successful business. The article, Unwrapping the Mythos of Mast Brothers Chocolate in Brooklyn, focuses on the questionable origins of the popular Brooklyn-based chocolatier, Mast Brothers. They’re not bad, but they’re not great, either, when you compare them with the top makers in the field of craft chocolate. Amano also turns out astonishingly good bars from all over Central and South America and has won a slew of awards. “The Masts’ selective amnesia about their early product lines …,” Scott writes, “demonstrates a will to build myth upon myth for compliant media, unmoored from the constraints of their actual history.” It would also help if they acknowledged the rest of the industry. The more nuanced answer is that there is incredible pressure on small brands to be authentic, individual, and unique, and that pressure can lead companies down strange paths. In the summer of 2009, experts noticed that the chocolate started tasting radically different. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. Scott quotes expert after expert, on the record, who agree that seven years ago the bars had the hallmark taste and texture of commercially produced chocolate. The Meadow, in Portland and New York, was the only spot I could find that both specializes in chocolate and carries Mast bars. Starting on Dec. 7, a food blogger named Scott, who runs a site called Dallasfood.org, has published a four-part series alleging that when they started out, the Mast Brothers didn’t make their own chocolate. The implications to consumers however is something worth noting. ... Chocolate from the wonderful Mast Brothers in New York. Within the artisan food industry, the story of the food has become as important as the food itself: In fact, it’s now part of the product. Scott, examining photographs of the Masts’ kitchen from newspaper stories and image-sharing sites, points out that the brothers appear to use the exact machines and process that Nanci recommends on his site, even while they assert that they “invented” bean-to-bar chocolate. The Masts incorporated as a chocolate company in 2007, after dabbling in beer- … Slate is published by The Slate Group, a Graham Holdings Company. But experts don’t think much of this artisan outfit — why? If you’ve heard of the Mast brothers, that’s probably the first word you came across, even before chocolate. ... Watermelon Avocado Fruit Food Canning Hate Meal Eten Hoods. I am in the artisan food industry however, so the article strikes a chord with me. When I reached out to Rick for a comment, Tim Monaghan at Camron PR responded to me with a prepared statement: In 2008, Mast was getting countless positive reviews and attention for their good chocolate, but chocolate experts Scott quotes and experts I’ve interviewed weren’t sure they were actually making that chocolate. I’ve taken Adler’s advice, and I’m inclined to agree (mostly) with the experts: Mast Brothers’ bars are average. The brothers have certainly been disingenuous with their customers: taking credit for a movement that they helped build but didn’t create single-handedly. Or is it a rich chocolate taste with just a hint of, for example, fruitiness or nuttiness? Unfortunately they don’t own up to that fact. If you value our work, please disable your ad blocker. And I’ve spoken to other sources familiar with Masts’ practices who corroborate Scott’s allegations. Beards. Why Chocolate Experts Think the Mast Brothers Are Frauds A blogger has come out with damning allegations about the Brooklyn chocolate company's early days. But the most appealing part of the brand might be its story: two impressively bearded brothers from Iowa who pioneered craft chocolate, bringing beans by sailboat from across the globe to their Brooklyn factory, where they meticulously craft the best chocolate you’ve ever tasted. Join Slate Plus to continue reading, and you’ll get unlimited access to all our work—and support Slate’s independent journalism. Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers. Chocolate Experts Hate Mast Brothers. We interviewed candy experts and historians to determine which bars made the biggest impact on the chocolate-bar industry—and the world at large. Yes, Rick and Michael Mast make craft chocolate in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg neighborhood, and they have big, bushy beards. You can cancel anytime. By Megan Giller. And you'll never see this message again. “If you were to ask the world’s top chocolate reviewers to rate bars, Mast Brothers would hit in the bottom 5 percentile,” said Clay Gordon, a Good Food Awards judge and the author of Discover Chocolate. They’ve also closed their main factory, on Brooklyn’s Washington Avenue, to public and professional tours. When they started making chocolate in 2006, the Mast brothers were among the first bean-to-bar chocolate manufacturers in America. That's exciting! Scott also relays the experience of chef Larry Gober, who asked Rick about sourcing in 2008.
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