Frightening yet delicious. | Photo by Sara Havens

The sweetest stench is in the air.
The fabulous funk of three busy chocolatiers.
And grizzly ghouls from every tomb
Are closing in to seal your diet’s doom.
And though you fight to only have five
Your body starts to shiver.
For no mere mortal can resist,
The evil of the peanut butter-filled vampire bunny thriller. 

If it wasn’t for the mouthwatering scent of chocolate wafting through the air, you might never know you had wandered behind the scenes at Cellar Door Chocolates. The sterile back kitchen inside the Butchertown Market was abuzz with a team whose task it was to fill the last order for the Halloween season.

One nimble employee hovered over molds of human skulls, delicately squirting in chocolate so that it filled every nook and cranny. Another went back and forth between red and white chocolate to perfectly construct suckers in the shape of a vampire’s mouth, complete with the requisite fangs.

The leader of this pack, Zoe Benway, kitchen manager of Cellar Door, worked on her own project — drawing pumpkins on white chocolate-dipped Oreos — while she also oversaw all the others.

Benway paused from her Oreo obligations to show us around the shop. She explained that although it’s just now nearing mid-October, Cellar Door is wrapping up its Halloween-themed chocolates to make way for snowmen, santas, ornaments and other December delights, as Christmas is the chocolate shop’s biggest holiday.

“It’ll be Christmas from here on out,” Benway said as if she was trying to mentally prepare for the retail madness that was about to descend upon the store, long before the ghosts and goblins make their way back into coffins.

Benway estimates the locally owned Cellar Door Chocolates makes about 7,000 to 10,000 pieces of candy for the Halloween season, but it’s nowhere near the volume they make for Christmas, Valentine’s Day and Derby — the three biggest holidays for the shop.

Owned and operated by chocolatier Erika Chavez-Graziano since 2007, Cellar Door, which employs 15, has two retail locations — inside the Butchertown Market at 1201 Story Ave., and downtown at 601 S. Fourth St. In addition to the aforementioned holiday-themed treats, the store offers brittles, barks, bars, bourbon-infused buttercream balls and so much more.

Below are 13 — yes, that’s on purpose — more photos from our peek behind the chocolate curtain.

Kitchen manager Zoe Benway prepares to make the outer coating for buttercream balls. | Photo by Sara Havens

Sara Havens

Sara Havens

Sara Havens is the Culture Editor at Insider Louisville, known around town as the Bar Belle ( She's a former editor of LEO Weekly and has written for Playboy and The Alcohol Professor. Havens is the author of two books: "The Bar Belle" and "The Bar Belle Vol. 2."