NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – In the latest episode of The Dig, CBS2’s Elle McLogan tastes her way through JoMart Chocolates, Brooklyn’s oldest chocolate factory.
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“My father Martin started JoMart in 1946,” owner Michael Rogak said. “My grandfather also was a candy maker.”
All chocolate sold in the Sheepshead Bay shop is made on the premises, and Elle got a behind-the-scenes look at how the treats are cooked up.
“The copper kettles are my grandfather’s. Marble table [is] my father’s,” he said. “I’m surrounded with this history and these stories,” he said. “It reminds me where I come from all the time.”
For Rogak, the people are the most important part of the business.
“Over the years, people have said to me, ‘If you get machines, you can replace people,’ but it’s not what we do,” he said. “Rose is here for 35 years. Jeanie and Linda are here over 20 years. My wife is here as long as I am. I got other people here who are here between seven, 10, 12 years. We very rarely have a job opening. And when we do, I warn the people. I say, ‘Look, there’s a very good chance you’ll spend the rest of your life here.'”
“We were small-batch candy makers before anyone was using the word ‘artisanal.'”
But the wares aren’t limited to chocolates.
“I don’t refer to myself as a chocolatier . . . because we don’t just work with chocolate. We’re making that which chocolate hangs out with. If it’s a chocolate-covered marshmallow, well, I made the marshmallow. If it’s chocolate-covered caramel, we make the caramel. If it’s buttercrunch, we make the buttercrunch.”
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According to Rogak, homemade treats aren’t JoMart’s only draw.
“I think, at the end of the day, it almost doesn’t matter what we do for a living. We’re all in the relationship business. So whether you’re a journalist, whether you’re a baker, whether you’re a candy maker, whether you’re a doctor, it’s about the relationships you build with other people. And we’re pretty good at that.”
2917 Avenue R
Brooklyn, NY 11229
What’s something few people know about but everybody should? Whatever it is, Elle McLogan is tracking it down on The Dig. Join her hunt for treasures hidden across our area. Follow Elle on Twitter and Instagram.