Cuckoo for Cocoa
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Vital Stats>> Oded "Max" Brenner, 38, of Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man in New York City
Company>> Chocolate cafe/restaurant/shop that is creating a new chocolate culture
All Abuzz>> Shhh . . . Listen closely and you just might hear a buzz in the air. Most likely, it's gasps of delight as chocolate-lovers experience one of the 20 Max Brenner locations currently open in the U.S., Australia, Israel, Singapore and the Philippines. But beware: That distinct murmur will soon reach a crescendo. After all, 300 Max Brenner branches are set to open in the U.S. over the next decade.
Eye Candy>> Ten years in the making, Max Brenner: Chocolate by the Bald Man has become the ultimate chocolate experience. The first New York City location opened last July. It occupies a 5,000-square-foot venue that features gigantic chocolate mixers, pipes filled with flowing chocolate, and an impressive variety of menu items ranging from decadent chocolate drinks and desserts to innovative chocolate soup and pizza. "It's like a good wine that evolves for a long time," says Brenner. "It evolved slowly, and I know how to appreciate it. I think it's a beautiful concept." The concept may have evolved slowly, but it caught on quickly, with sales doubling from 2005 to 2006.Chocolate Culture>> Brenner, who trained for five years under some of the finest pastry chefs and chocolatiers in Europe, is a self-described romantic. But he is also extremely calculative, both in the products he invents--such as the Hug Mug, a mug perfectly designed to be cradled in one's hands--and his vision for the future. His ultimate goal? To establish the alternative to the standard cafe or restaurant and to create a new chocolate culture in which chocolate is consumed, enjoyed and celebrated--as only he can show us how.