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.”