A Chocolatier Returns | The Jewish Week | Food & Wine

A Chocolatier Returns

Courtesy Blue Stripes

Oded Brenner opens the Blue Stripes Cacao Shop

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“I am a chocolate artist,” proclaims Oded Brenner, co-founder of Max Brenner Chocolate. Brenner has now created the new Blue Stripes Cacao Shop steps away from the Max Brenner restaurant near Union Square, where he shares what he calls the “holistic stories of chocolate and cacao.”

Though legally mandated to stay out of the chocolate business for the past five years, Brenner is back at it, once again innovating and in chocolate in New York.

During the hiatus, he researched, browsed, and filled notebooks with ideas. Every temptation at Blue Stripes forms a chapter in what Brenner calls his ‘cacao novel,’ each tendering an aspect of what makes chocolate and cacao (seeds and pods) unique.

When asked about his childhood, Brenner admits that he always liked chocolate. His yekke German-Jewish family believed in everything in moderation including a little chocolate after lunch and when playing bridge. When his grandparents traveled to Europe, they brought back Swiss chocolate treats. Chocolate links Brenner to beautiful family memories.

Photos by Deborah Prinz

 

With regard to the iconic milk chocolate bars made by Elite (Israel’s answer to the American Hershey bar), Brenner had the same experience as many Israeli children. He was rewarded with them, his Purim gift baskets included them, his challah was toasted with the sweet chocolate between the slices.

Some of Brenner’s past surfaces in the Blue Stripes shop. He sells croissants toasted with a bar of chocolate, tehina-chocolate bars, and marshmallow whip on a cookie drizzled with freshly melted chocolate reminiscent of Israeli Krembo. The name of the café was inspired by a memorable photograph of a model wearing an outfit with blue stripes he saw in a French fashion magazine while learning the chocolate business in Paris.

Photos by Deborah Prinz

 

Pots of melting chocolate set into the counters entice his steady stream of visitors. Like an artist curating an exhibition, Brenner has put together a smart, savory, and sweet menu. It uniquely includes items made from cacao pulp along with proprietary recipes for raw bars, and a delicious chocolate spread whipped up from raw chocolate, raw hazelnuts, and coconut sugar. Order a hot Wild Chocolate and the beans are ground right in front of you. Do you want something healthy? Request a granola bowl made with the entire cacao bean, that is oats toasted with chocolate nestled with frozen cacao pulp, chocolate nibs, fruit, and crème fraiche. If you prefer a refreshing cool drink, go for the smoothie with a cacao pulp base or the Cloud, an aerated, flavored chocolate drink. Perhaps you tend towards the extremely decadent, then aim for the Cake & Shake tower or the oversized cone with cocoa nib ice cream concocted from the cacao pulp. Are you wondering about Brenner’s favorite? He admits that his daughter’s preference, and his as well, (though I had to press hard) is the melted chocolate drink, what he calls a Pure Chocolate Shot. Intrigued by the differences between eating solid chocolate and chocolate drink, Brenner happily serves up both.

Brenner’s imagination has guided us to the tantalizing treats of Blue Stripes. I can’t wait to see how the next series in his chocolate and cacao narrative unfolds.

Rabbi Deborah R. Prinz lectures about chocolate and Judaism around the world based on stories from her book, “On the Chocolate Trail: A Delicious Adventure Connecting Jews, Religions, History, Travel, Rituals and Recipes to the Magic of Cacao” (second edition, Jewish Lights). She co-curated the exhibit “Semi[te] Sweet: On Jews and Chocolate” for Temple Emanu-El’s Herbert and Eileen Bernard Museum, New York City, now available to travel to your community.

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