A local filmmaker recently highlighted the owners of a Ridgewood hardware-store-turned-chocolate-shop in her independent film that recently debuted at a neighborhood bookshop.
Hanna Utkin randomly came across husband-and-wife duo Constantine and Rubi Kalpaxis at their Ridgewood Chocolate shop, located at 60-02 Catalpa Ave., and immediately fell in love with their chocolate-making operation.
“I was walking around the neighborhood with a friend, a musician that also lives in Ridgewood, one evening when we passed by a storefront with what looked like two huge jars full of cocoa beans in the windowsill — which is definitely an unusual sight,” Utkin said. “My friend didn’t even believe me that the jars were full of cocoa beans. Even though it looked like they were locking up, Constantine got us to come inside to try some chocolate and I got hooked right away.”
Constantine Kalpaxis previously owned the American Houseware shop that was formerly on Fresh Pond Road, but moved to the Catalpa Avenue location two years ago. He and his wife continue to sell home goods at the shop, but recently began making and selling their handmade chocolates out of their store.
“The whole setup is here. Half of the store is devoted to making chocolate,” Constantine Kalpaxis told QNS in a February interview. “We do everything, with the exception of the roasting of the beans, which we still do at home because [Rubi] likes to experiment with different roasting of the beans.”
Since then, the couple has been making their own chocolate, and experimenting with different cocoa beans and roasts to create truly unique flavor for Ridgewood.
It is their love and passion for making chocolate that lit the fire in Utkin to shine a spotlight on the neighborhood chocolate makers.
“I think Constantine and Rubi were really [what] inspired me. They’re both really humble about it but they know a lot about chocolate and you can tell right away that they care a lot about how it’s made,” Utkin said. “They’ve done something really different by creating an unique, authentic and quality product and it drives them. I feel like they’re kind of on a mission to introduce people to the real chocolate and it’s nothing like the sugary soy lecithin stuff you can get at a supermarket. I wanted to share the spark they showed me with others as well as introduce people to the world of fresh chocolate — which is remarkably, right in Ridgewood.”
So Utkin enlisted the help of Andrew Alvarez and Christian Payment to do the cinematography for the 5-minute film aptly titled “Ridgewood Chocolate.”
Utkin then had her film screened at Ridgewood’s Topos Bookstore on Oct. 19.
“For me, it was really gratifying to see people from different communities coming together to experience both the film and the chocolate,” Utkin said. “I loved, and am very grateful, that I got to tell a story about Ridgewood, in a Ridgewood bookstore, with an audience full of people that love Ridgewood.”
Utkin is looking to shoot more films in Ridgewood, and she is eyeing the giant red macaw that lives at the pawn shop on Forest Avenue as the feature of her next work, she said.