When Mark Libertini drove by the right building at the right time one day, his career would take a dramatic turn.
The building's first occupant was the Krause's Candy Kitchen in 1930, run by a German family, specializing in hard candies and cremes. In 1960, they sold the business to the Aigner family, led by John Aigner, a confectioner who worked for the Krauses. They kept the Krause name, only changing it to Aigner Chocolates around 2006-2007 to reflect their new focus.
Mark graduated from the Cambridge (MA) School of Culinary Arts in 1992, trained as a pastry chef. He had a number of bake shop jobs, even riding the cupcake craze as a partner in Little Cupcake Bake Shop in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn where he met Rachel, a regular customer.
In 2015, Mark was in the flooring business when he drove by Aigner Chocolates and saw a "For Sale" sign in the window. He called the number and met the Aigners 45 minutes later for a "grand tour." There was a deal already in place for a sale, but it just fell through, and the Aigners were about to auction off the entire premises.
Mark and Rachel signed the papers and re-opened the store five weeks later, just 10 days before Halloween: "Everything is the original recipes they'd been making for decades."
"Most chocolatiers don't make truffles like this anymore... I love this machine. Even though it's an antique piece of equipment, this was designed as a knock-off of a higher-end machine. I find this machine works much better than the original. I treat this machine very lovingly, knowing how difficult it is to fix. No one touches this machine except for me."
-- Mark Libertini
CLICK to see Mark demonstrate his 70-year-old candy press.