Revisiting Mast (Bros)

Revisiting Mast (Bros)

Four years after a scandal rocked the company causing it to close operations in Brooklyn, in December 2019 Mast reopened in Mt Kisco, NY.

It was past time to visit, so when my good friend and colleague Christopher Curtin (collaborator on the Good and Evil bar with Eric Ripert and Anthony Bourdain) suggested a road trip – we are both fully vaccinated – I was eager to make the journey because I was curious to see what the new incarnation of Mast was like firsthand

A (very) Brief Introduction

Before Dandelion there was (were?) the Mast Bros.

The company fronted by red-bearded brothers Rick and Mike Mast catapulted to the forefront of the nascent craft chocolate scene in NYC in 2007-ish with bravura. To many, the Mast Bros were the actual poster boys for craft chocolate. By 2015 the (by then renamed to simply) Mast empire had spread to London and LA and included a cookbook whose forward was authored by Thomas Keller of French Laundry and Per Se fame.

But, persistent whispers about incongruities in the company’s origin story turned into louder rumors that turned into a four-part exposé which led to changes in market conditions that resulted in changes the company was ultimately unable to weather – closing down operations in its Brooklyn home.

Then, phoenix-like in late 2019, Mast reappeared in the quaint hamlet of Mt Kisco in Westchester County, New York.


Cutting to the chase, I have to give Rick and Mike well-deserved props for having the courage to reopen. Not everyone would have had the strength to reenter the market after the circumstances that caused them to leave.

The space and focus/direction of Mast Market (as the retail location is signed) are familiar and fresh at the same time, and well-suited for Mt Kisco and central Westchester County.

I lived in Southern Westchester for nearly 14 years and often found myself in the area.

In addition to selling chocolate bars, there is a coffee bar (a Bellwether Coffee roaster stands in the back next to the convection ovens used to roast cocoa), a German grain mill, and a range pantry products that seem more suited to the brothers’ Iowa farm boy roots than hipster Williamsburg.

Mast Market | Makers of the Organic Pantry
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The Chocolate

There is not one identified (on the label) single-origin bar to be found. There is a plaque on one of the tables that says that all of the bars are made with beans from a single origin, Tanzania, sourced from Kokoa Kamili.

There is just one plain, unflavored, dark chocolate bar (without an origin designation) and all the rest are milk (include oat) or have some flavoring. Bars come in two sizes, 28 and 70gr, and retail for $3 and $7 respectively.

The packaging, as always, is distinctive though the folded paper wrapping has been replaced with boxes and the bars themselves appear to be machine-wrapped in foil. Through a promotion/sponsorship with the Metropolitan Museum all of the bars appear to be available in two different boxes, one with Mast branding and one with Met/Mast co-branding which includes reproductions of famous paintings in the Met’s collection. These bars – the same chocolate in the Mast-only branded packaging it looks like – retail for $9 with $5.50 going to the Met.

I bought and tried one bar, the Olive Oil bar (aka Dinnertime).

I chose this bar because of the connection to Thomas Keller and his chocolate venture Keller+Manni which specializes in chocolates made with olive oil. I tasted a K+M bar back in early 2017 and had this to say:

The taste [... of this K+M bar ...] is bland and boring, with over roasted notes predominating. There is considerable dustiness to the texture as the chocolate leaves the mouth that - finally - resolves into some stronger green vegetal notes from the olive oil. There is also some interesting and nice - but fleeting - astringency that darts around the mouth and then … it all fades away into nothing surprisingly quickly. There bottom drops out of the middle and there is literally almost nothing on the long finish ... I give it a strong Meh.

While this particular bar from Mast was not perfect from a technical tempering/molding perspective, the taste of this bar is significantly better than I remember the K+M bar being (at half the price) and better than I remember my last bar of Mast being (I don’t remember which it was). On this bar there is a combination of acidity and roast from the beans with fruitiness from the olive oil on the nose. The snap makes sense given the addition of olive oil in the recipe – firm but not too crisp. The bite makes sense given the snap and the flavor matches the aroma with acidity mixed with fruitiness ending up in chocolate that pleasantly beats back and forth between fruity (mostly in the nose) and chocolate (top of the tongue and back of the throat) over the course of a couple of minutes.

Not perfect wrapping, tempering, and molding.

L: It looks like the bars may be machine wrapped. In any event, imperfectly. M: It looks like the molds are underfilled and when the chocolate cools it creeps up the edge leaving a ridge that can break off into small pieces and dust inside the wrapper. R: The image is enhanced slightly to show release marks and smudges. There is also a slight dustiness on the finish texture that is a common signature of chocolate made in a wet grinder – but less obvious than many.

And (finally) the 70gr boxes all now carry nutrition facts panels.

Mast Market

Mast Market has elements of the Williamsburg location.

While there is no inside seating, Christopher and I sat outside for an extended pleasant conversation.

While I can say I did enjoy the bar of Olive Oil chocolate, I cannot say the same for the macchiato, which was unpleasant – sour and acidic.


While haters will always hate, contrary to what many may think, I never hated Mast the company or Rick 0r Mike, nor was I being vindictive holding the positions I did. More than anything, I was disappointed. It is no understatement to say that Mast Bros was one of the most influential companies in craft chocolate from 2007–2015. Mast Bros chocolate was often the first introduction to non-industrial chocolate for many generating a lot of interest and enthusiasm among the general public, and a lot of new makers modeled their businesses in part on the Mast Bros ethos, look, and taste. So I was disappointed in the way things went down and how they were handled.

Mixing metaphors egregiously, it takes a lot of pluck to pick yourself up, dust yourself off, and get back in the saddle again. It looks like the Mast brothers have learned some important lessons about being a lifestyle brand (expanding to pantry items, the flavor selection of the bars, the move away from emphasis on single-origins, and nutrition facts panels among them) while on hiatus and I for one am interested to follow where this new incarnation will lead them.

Signs so far appear to be pointing in a good direction and so – if you will be traveling in Central Westchester, whether by bike, car, or Metro North – my recommendation is that you should plan to make the time to stop, visit, relax, and taste, with an open mind.

Photo credits: Clay Gordon

More ...

Mast Brothers - Wikipedia
Éclat Chocolate | Handcrafted, Artisan Chocolates by Christopher Curtin
Order from Éclat Chocolate’s array of award-winning chocolate. We offer chef-inspired flavors to elevate your chocolate experience. Shop gourmet chocolates.

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