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Israeli chocolatier behind Max Brenner eyes sweet comeback with new venture

Oded Brenner, co-founder of the Max Brenner chain and founder of Blue Stripes Cacao Shop in New York City
Courtesy Blue Stripes Cacao Shop

Oded Brenner, the Israeli chocolatier who co-founded the globally successful ‘Max Brenner’ dessert-centric restaurant chain, is eyeing a sweet comeback to the industry with the launch of a new venture in New York City after five years barred from chocolate.

After selling Max Brenner to Israeli food and beverage giant Strauss in 2001, Brenner was barred from his craft under restrictive non-competition contracts which prevented him from using the word “chocolate” in any of his professional pursuits or from using his name or face to promote any new brand.

But with the five-year term of those conditions now expired, Brenner is eyeing a sweet comeback to chocolate with his newly opened Blue Stripes Cacao Shop in New York City, which he describes as a “chocolate laboratory and playground.”

At Blue Stripes, Brenner’s sugary-sweet chocolates are blended with a healthy dose of reality as he weaves into the design of his creations the bittersweet lessons learned after being forced to step back from doing what he loves for the past five years.

Short stories addressed to Brenner’s children detailing his early love affair with chocolate, his meteoric rise to success, and his losing it all are embossed on the dishware in which his Blue Stripes creations are served.

But Brenner told i24NEWS he’s not living in the past, and he’s looking ahead at a new and exciting chapter in his career.

“It’s a beautiful, unbelievable chapter but I’m not living in the past. It’s all part of a beautiful story,” he told i24NEWS in an interview from New York City.

Brenner achieved massive success with Max Brenner, which he co-founded with former business partner Max Fichtman. One of Israel’s sweetest world exports, Max Brenner today boasts 24 locations around the world, including three branches in the US, seven in Australia, four in Japan and two in Russia.

Brenner says despite the difficult journey Max Brenner took him on, he’s proud of its continued success.

“I think there was a lot of ego and the second ego and emotions become involved you get the same on the other side,” he tells i24NEWS. Looking back, he says the most important lesson he’s learned is to always look for settlement and compromise.

“It’s the same advice I received from my legal advisers and I didn’t listen. But I learned, and I hope I will be able to adopt that advice in the years to come.”

With his latest foray into chocolate, Brenner says he’s pursuing “innovation” and hopes to introduce his customers to the “unknown qualities of the cacao fruit itself”.

In addition to the decadent, indulgent desserts he’s built his reputation on, Blue Stripes offers unique cacao-blended energy and fruit drinks, granola and fruit bowls, and a “wild hot-chocolate” which sees raw cacao beans ground right before his customers’ eyes.

Blue Stripes Cacao Shop is located at 28 E 13th St, in the heart of Manhattan’s Union Square.


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