There is no man named Max Brenner behind the international chain “Max Brenner”, but there is a Max Fichtman and an Oded Brenner, business partners who lent their names to the title when their first shop opened in Tel Aviv in 1995. After an acrimonious split with Fichtman — Brenner, who served as the face of Max Brenner, lending his likeness to the little bald man on all its packaging, was forbidden from making chocolate for half a decade due to a non-compete agreement.
Now the wait is over, and a mere block from the Max Brenner New York City flagship in Union Square, Brenner is opening his own chocolate shop, called Blue Stripes.
To avoid legal woes, Blue Stripes places its emphasis on cacao, the plant from which chocolate is derived, and not on chocolate. Cacao, which has recently been making the media rounds as the new superfood, with some advising people to eat it before bed, and some referring to it as a ‘natural mood elevator.’.
“I decided to share with everyone all the “family” secrets I was making for her for the last five years while I was restricted from making chocolate to everyone else,” says Brenner on his web site. And while the menu stays true to Brenner’s origins as the Israeli Willy Wonka, containing many ridiculous chocolate dishes, like chocolate pizza, for $7 a slice, and pure chocolate shot-titos at $5 a gulp, it’s also a great cacao primer, with cacao bar tapas (served with pretzels)and cacao fruit energy shakes.
The name Blue Stripes was inspired by a John Paul Gaultier blue and white striped suit Brenner saw as a young chocolate apprentice in Paris, idly flipping through an Elle magazine. And of course, the packaging is all blue and white stripes, with no an outline of a bald chocolatemaker in sight.
Shira Feder is a writer. She’s at email@example.com and @shirafeder