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November 23, 2014

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Max Brenner general manager Ryan Sterling indulges our sweet tooth

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Leila Navidi

Max Brenner general manager Ryan Sterling

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You couldn't find a more appropriate word to describe Max Brenner's creations than madness. From hot chocolate to milkshakes, there's something for everyone - even cocktails or, as they refer to them, "choctails." Mocha Madness mixes milk- and dark-chocolate ganache and espresso with Kahlua, serving it in a stemless martini glass resting in a bowl of ice, with a side of pistachio biscotti.

As Max Brenner general manager Ryan Sterling says, he's a bald man, but he's not the bald man, referring to the eponymous chocolatier, who opened the first West Coast location of the world's largest chocolate restaurant in August at The Forum Shops at Caesars. Sterling oversees day-to-day operations for the new location, which has been earning rave reviews.

"Who doesn't love chocolate?" Sterling asks, to no objection. "It's such a comforting thing. It appeals to little kids and it appeals to adults, and that's what people need nowadays is that comfort."

Prior to moving to Las Vegas from Southern California, Sterling served as the garde-manger at Border Grill in Santa Monica, then as a product development chef for an L.A.-based consulting firm.

Since joining the Max Brenner team, he's been helping the company build the brand in a market that's largely unfamiliar with the chocolatier and his creations. That should all change with one look at the food.

"The facial expressions that people get when the banana waffle comes to their table, I never get tired of that," he said.

But a restaurant cannot survive on chocolate alone. Max Brenner offers plenty of savory items, too, including some that rival the signature sweet treats.

"Our macaroni and cheese is off the hook," Sterling said. "In the past three days, I've had two separate people call me begging me for the macaroni-and-cheese recipe."

— Originally published in Las Vegas Magazine

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