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'This Is My Life': Kahkow Chocolate Factory Brings Farm-To-Bar Experience To New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Monday is National Chocolate Day and to celebrate, CBS2's Jessica Moore went into a chocolate factory and shop in Brooklyn.

Ribbons of liquid chocolate transform into powdered cocoa and sweet, gooey liquid chocolate is stirred at the perfect temperature as sheets of chocolate bars wait to cool and others are wrapped in the company's signature paper.

Kahkow is a family run farm-to-bar chocolate factory located in Williamsburg.

All the cacao beans are grown on the Rizek family farm in the Dominican Republic and then processed into nibs, powders, liquids, butters and bars and sold in the family's first boutique abroad.

"We're living in an era where people want to know where their products are coming from, who's making them, what goes into making them... so the goal is to educate people on the whole process from planting the beans to the finished chocolate bar," Kahkow manager Nadia Rizek said.

That's where pastry chef turned chocolatier Damion Badalamenti comes in, the Spanish-trained self-proclaimed chocoholic whose contract stipulates he must "play" with chocolate every day.

"This is my life. I knew I wanted to be a chef since the age of 5," he said. "There was something so impressive about having something so small, so tiny and yet the effect... It envelopes you. There are levels and layers. Flavors change if it's made well. And that was it... once I started that I knew exactly what I wanted."

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Kahkow isn't just a chocolate shop. It's an educational experience. Case in point, the famous chocolate wall, showcasing some of the best, most award-winning chocolate bars from around the world.

Cards displayed next to each bar detail where they come from and describe their unique flavor profiles. On the back wall, video screens give customers a live look at the Rizek farm in the Dominican Republic and showcase the process of transforming the chocolate from bean to bar.

"This is not Willy Wonka. It's not chocolate fountains and tubes. That's dramatic but this is very real. It's the art of making chocolate from roast to finish," Badalamenti said.

Kahkow plans to launch a "make your own chocolate bar" feature in the future, but in the meantime, customers can watch the process from a front-row seat.

The factory sells cacao beans and nibs, chocolate powders and bars to New York City cooks and chefs, as well as a small selection of baked goods for lucky neighborhood customers.


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