Latest study shows health-conscious restaurants on the rise in America. Just kidding, here’s one where they use a syringe to squirt chocolate directly into your mouth.
Slices of chocolate pizza. Syringes that squirt liquid chocolate into your mouth. Warm double chocolate fondue.
Israeli restauranteur Max Brenner’s new chocolate bar off New York’s Union Square, Chocolate By The Bald Man, caters for chocoholics of all ages — and is pretty much a disaster for anyone trying to watch their weight.
Brenner has opened 19 restaurants worldwide in the past six years — in Australia, Israel, Singapore and the Philippines — but this is his first in the United States with plans to open a second in New York’s East Village later this month.
Sitting in his restaurant that has the feel of a European cafe but with zany wallpaper and pipes across the ceiling giving it the look of a chocolate factory, Brenner explains that he set out to create a chocolate culture.
"I believe chocolate for people is not just about taste. It’s about memories, about fantasies, about fun," the bald-headed Brenner told Reuters as he melted, mixed and poured a variety of chocolate concoctions.
"People want the whole chocolate experience. A ritual. So I created a ceremony around chocolate with special cups and utensils."
Hot chocolate is served at his restaurants in oval-shaped cups tapered at one end called "hug mugs" that are cradled in hands. Coffee comes in "kangaroo cups" with a pouch or shelf for chocolate. Ice cream popsicles come with bowls of melted chocolate, chocolate waffle balls and caramelized pecan bits.
"Everyone loves chocolate in the way that we do it. It crosses all ages and cultures," said Brenner, a European-trained pastry chef and chocolatier, whose bald head is used as the logo for the stores.
The name Max Brenner is actually a composite of two Israelis, Max Fichtman and Oded Brenner, who launched the business 10 years ago in Israel as a chocolate shop.
But when Fichtman left after a few years, Brenner came up with the idea of a chocolate bar — a restaurant serving chocolate with a gift shop — and opened his first store in Sydney in 2000, adopting the Willy Wonka-like persona of "Max Brenner."
In 2001 Israel’s second largest food and beverage company Strauss-Elite bought into the company, partnering with Brenner and opening a string of more restaurants to spread the chocolate gospel.
But in these days of health conscious eating are people still lured by chocolate?
"People love chocolate. It makes them smile. I believe the happiness it causes does magic things for your health," said Brenner, 36, a slim man, who eats chocolate daily but admits he goes to the gym every day too.
"If you do it in moderation it is good for you." Name: Max Brenner, Chocolate by the Bald Man Location: 841 Broadway @ 16th Street, New York City.