Tag Archives: Aarti Khosla

Roundup: Staples Players, Mattress Recycling, Pet Photos …

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The Staples High School auditorium has been dark for 14 months.

But later this month, Staples Players will be back on stage.

Tickets go on sale tomorrow (Saturday, May 8) for a unique show. “Words Words Words … And Music” is a feel-good, very funny journey through 5 short plays by award-winning (and witty) playwright David Ives, plus 2 mini-musicals and a smattering of songs and monologues.

The curtain goes up May 20 and 21 (7:30 p.m.), and 22 (2 p.m., 7:30 p.m.). Socially distant seating is available tomorrow (click here). NOTE: Cultural starvation and fewer seats may create a toilet paper-in-2020 situation.

A virtual livestream is set for June 6 (6 p.m.).

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Who wouldn’t like free compost?

Just bring a container (no larger than a kitchen trash can) to the mattress and box spring recycling event at Earthplace tomorrow (Saturday, May 8, 8:30 to 11:30 a.m.). Boy Scouts will fill it!

Sustainable Westport is thanking Westport for making the food scrap recycling program such a success. Started less than a year ago, residents now divert 10 tons of food scraps a month. (That’s in addition to me compost piles.)

That’s great. But the goal is to double participation in the Zero Food Waste Challenge in the next 6 months. For options, and guidance, click here. For more information on tomorrow’s event, email ZeroWaste@SustainableWestport.org or call 203-293-6320.

Free compost at Earthplace!

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Speaking of Earthplace: This year, their annual fundraiser has been turned into a special “Cocktails & Clams To Go” have-your-own-picnic event.

100 boxes of Copps Island oysters or clams (your choice) are on sale (along with a shucking knife, cocktail sauce and mixer, Harbor Watch car magnet, and raffle entry.

Each basket purchased allows Harbor Watch to continue its fight against pollution in local waterways. Click here for more information, and to purchase your shellfish.

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Ever since she opened Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates, Aarti Khosla has helped people and organizations in need in Westport, Bridgeport and throughout Fairfield County.

Now she’s helping people in her native land.

As COVID causes havoc in India, Aarti is helping raise funds to mobilize oxygen concentrators and other equipment. “No amount is too small to make a difference,” Aarti says. She is working with Vibha, a non-profit whose tagline is “Save lives. Save India.” Click here for details, and to contribute.

She is also donating 20% of all sales from Mother’s Day and Teacher Appreciation Week to Vibha. So this is the perfect time for some fantastic chocolate — and to help an important cause.

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Tickets for individual Westport Country Playhouse virtual performances are now on sale.

This season’s online offerings include a comedy (“Tiny House,” June 29-July 18), a Script in Hand (“The Savannah Disputation,” June 14-20), a classic (“Man of La Mancha 2018,” August 23-September 5), and a gripping drama (“Doubt: A Parable,” November 2-21).

Virtual tickets start at just $20. Click here for more information, and to order. Questions? Call 203-227-4177, or email boxoffice@westportplayhouse.org.

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Staples junior Katie Davitt has found a way to combine her passions for art and advocacy. She draws pet portraits for families — and donates 100% of the proceeds to causes she cares deeply about, like racial justice (Equal Justice Initiative), animal welfare (Connecticut Humane Society) and combating climate change (Environmental Defense Fund).

So far, she has raised and given away over $1,500.

Katie says, “the pandemic has given me an opportunity to look inward and realize what is truly important to me: family, friends, pursuing my passions. At the same time it’s opened my eyes to injustices in the world. I feel like I am doing my small part in making a difference.”

Katie is busy with schoolwork. But anyone interested in pet portraits this summer should send a photo of the pet, its name and your background color preference to kateedavitt@gmail.com. She charges $65 for a printed portrait in a 9”x11” black frame with a white matte, $45 for a digital file.

One of Katie Davitt’s pet photos.

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Westport Transit director Peter Gold writes:

“Ten days ago, I urged the community to ask the RTM to support public transit in Westport by restoring funds cut from the Westport Transit District’s budget for the Wheels2U Westport shuttles.

“The response was overwhelming. Over 100 letters were sent to the RTM from individuals and organizations in favor of restoring the funding. The RTM heard your voice, and voted 32-to-1 to restore the budget and keep Westport’s Wheels2U shuttle running and growing!

“Wheels2U Westport was launched in October 2020 to support Westport residents and businesses. It provides a convenient and environmentally-friendly way for Westport residents and reverse commuters to travel between the train stations and their homes, employers and downtown. Wheels2U is now an integral part of Westport.

“We cannot thank you enough! A diverse group of residents, commuters and key Westport organizations came together to share your stories, explain the shuttle’s benefits, and lend your voice to restoring the budget.

“There are exciting things planned for Wheels2U Westport in the next year. We look forward to keeping everyone up to date about our growth and new initiatives.”

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Westport’s wonderful spring continues. Judith Katz spotted these tulips on Myrtle Avenue, across from Sconset Square. Just a few of the many colorful flowers that make our town so beautiful.

(Photo/Judith Katz)

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And finally … in Vienna today in 1824, Beethoven’s 9th Symphony was first performed. It’s considered the composer’s greatest work — and one of the finest musical achievements of all time. Groundbreaking in its use of voices, it is also one of the most performed symphonies in the world.

Of course, Beethoven never heard his masterpiece. When he began composing the 9th Symphony in 1822, he was already deaf.

Le Rouge Turns Blue

The name of the business is Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates.

It’s as clever — a play on owner Aarti Khosla’s name — as her creations are good.

Since opening in 2014 at 190 Main Street — just past Avery Place, underneath the old Sally’s Place — the store has satisfied Westporters’ sweet teeth with amazing flavors. Aarti has also been a great neighbor, helping countless charitable causes here and in Bridgeport.

Aarti Khosla

Her store and packaging are known for their distinctive black (for chocolate) and red (her favorite) colors.

So why has “Le Rouge” now turned to blue?

For a while, designer friends have told Aarti that her polka dot and red packaging — though bold and eye-catching — distracted customers from the beauty of her hand-painted chocolates.

She hired The Visual Brand — around the corner on Church Lane — for her brand redesign.

As she talked with them about her childhood — her parents are from Punjab; her father would bring back amazing chocolates from his travels to France — they came up with the line “Flavors from Paris to Punjab.” It’s incorporated into artwork depicting the skylines of both countries, and is the “crown jewel” of the new design.

The design was finalized in late 2019. But there were issues producing the new boxes locally. With the holidays approaching, Aarti put the project on hold.

One day, she saw an Instagram post about a packaging company based in New Delhi. She was headed there soon, for a wedding. At the factory she met a young woman named Arti. They worked long distance with our Aarti, after she returned home.

That’s where the royal blue came in. The first design made in that color palate was for the “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts.

During the pandemic, Aarti and Arti finalized 27 new package designs. They arrived right before Valentine’s Day.

You can see the new blue at Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates. She has no plans to change that evocative, colorful name.

 

A New Look For Chocolates By Aarti

Over the past 5 years, Aarti Khosla has built up a wonderful, popular business.

But the name — Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti — was a mouthful.

So the new year — and new decades — brings a new look.

The new name could not be more delicious: Le Rouge Aartisan Chocolates.

Get it?!

Aarti began using chocolate to showcase the rich diversity of Indian desserts. She worked in a rented commercial kitchen, and sold through farmer’s markets, chocolate shows and holiday boutiques.

Aarti Khosla, with her creations.

After introducing European ganache cakes, she opened the small shop at 190 Main Street — a few steps from Joe’s Pizza, and underneath Ron Provenzano’s barber shop.

“I feel humbled and very fortunate to be accepted, appreciated and embraced by the community,” Aarti says.

“It has been a blessing to meet so many people from all walks of life, and make innumerable friends along the way.”

Her bold black and white polka dot brand is well known. But, she says, it does not fully communicate the building blocks behind Le Rouge Chocolates: her Indian heritage, passion for world travel, and love of French food artistry.

Randy Herbertson of the Church Lane design firm TVB helped her capture the essence of her inspirations.

The new logo’s lotus flower and dome are nods to India. The elaborate scrollwork is inspired by Paris’ iron balconies.

The skyline combines those of India and Paris. She came up with the tagline: “Paris to Punjab.”

Using royal blue with red “elevates the packaging to look royal — just like my hand-painted chocolate gems,” Aarti says.

Condensing “Chocolates by Aarti” to “Aartisan Chocolates” was the brainchild of her good friend Joelle Berger.

She also took the suggestion of photographer/marketing guru Dave Matlow to incorporate the word that represents her core business — “chocolate” — in the new logo and website.

The new website — http://www.lerougechocolates.com — will be ready soon. A launch party — also celebrating Valentine’s Day month — is set for Saturday, February 8 (11 a.m. to 5 p.m.).

In the meantime, as Aarti transitions to Artisan Chocolates, she’s open for business.

Some things never change.

The new color scheme, and Aarti’s always-wonderful chocolates.

Unsung Heroes #126

The other day, the Women’s Business Development Council honored 11 Connecticut business people with “Women Rising” awards.

Two are from Westport.

Suzanne Vita Palazzo

Suzanne Vita Palazzo — founder and owner of Upper Deck Fitness, in National Hall — has been here for a couple of years. This is her 2nd location (the first is in Stamford).

But she’s quickly become part of the community. Upper Deck has opened its doors for a variety of Post Road West community events, including a Women’s Wellness Day for cancer survivors.

Aarti Khosla has been serving Westport in many ways too, since 2012.

With a background in economics and international marketing, she worked for international corporations. Aarti opened her first company in her native India in 1991, then started a second business after coming to the US 3 years later.

Born with “foodie genes” and blessed with a mom who was an amazing cook, Aarti followed her passion to become an artisan chocolatier. Her initial inspiration came from a desire to use chocolate to showcase the rich diversity of Indian desserts, and “capture flavors from around the world, in the divine language of chocolate.”

She launched her business in 2012, selling through farmer’s markets, shows and holiday boutiques. In 2014 she opened Le Rouge Chocolates by Aarti at 190 Main Street.

Each piece of chocolate is made with fresh, top quality ingredients, and meticulously hand painted.

Aarti Khosla, in her red-and-black-themed chocolate shop.

She fills a great niche. She has been voted Best Chocolate Shop of Westport each year since, and Best of Gold Coast twice. She ships her creations all over the world.

But it’s in Westport that Aarti has really made her mark. She runs frequent promotions, earmarking a portion of sales to local and international causes — humanitarian, social justice and women’s issues, among them.

Westport is blessed with many female business owners. Today, “06880” follows the Women’s Business Development Council in hailing 2 special ones.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Give A Little Chocolate

Uh-oh.

It’s Valentine’s Day, and you forgot your chocolates.

You have 2 choices:

  1. Kiss your relationship goodbye.
  2. Head to Le Rouge by Aarti — and help not only yourself, but a good cause.

Since 2016 Aarti Khosla — the handmade chocolatier at 190 Main Street — has run a “Give a Little Love” campaign. She donates 10% of the proceeds from any heart-shaped creation to charity.

This year’s recipient is “She’s the First.” The organization — dear to Aarti’s, um, heart — empowers and helps educate young women who are the first in their family to go to college.

But Aarti is not stopping there. She just introduced a second campaign: “Give a Little Woof.”

Aarti designed a mini-heart box, with 3 hand-painted dark chocolate “bones.” A full 50% of sales goes to the Weston Dog Park. The initiative honors Brian Gordon, the town’s beloved 2nd selectman and 1987 Staples High School graduate, who died in November.

Give a Little Woof!

So what are you waiting for?

Well, actually, you’ve still got a couple of hours. Le Rouge opens at 11 a.m.

Chocolate Hearts Help Kids In Crisis

Amid the swirl of awful news about children in crisis around the world, many Westporters wonder how they can help.

Aarti Khosla — owner of Le Rouge, the artisan chocolate shop on Main Street just past Avery Place — has one idea. She writes:

With the continued moral decay surrounding us, I am upping the effort to raise money for children in crisis. I’m giving 100% of the proceeds from chocolate hearts sold this week.

To keep my sanity during the challenging moral decay surrounding me, I have been busy making “Give a Little Love” chocolate hearts since February of 2017. So far we have sold close to 800 hearts. They’ve been shared in random acts of kindness in and around our community. 10% of the proceeds have been given to charity.

“Give a Little Love” with these chocolates.

Please help me reach my goal of 1,000 hearts this week. 100% of  sales of these hearts will go to help children in crisis.

These chocolate hearts are a great way to say thank you to teachers, school staff, bus drivers and others in our community. Please join me in spreading more love!

The hard-working Aarti had already planned to close for her annual vacation next week. So head down to 190 Main Street today or tomorrow, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Unsung Hero #35

Happy Valentine’s Day!

There’s a lot to love in Westport. At the top of anyone’s list should be Le Rouge by Aarti.

Aarti Khosla — owner of the luscious handmade chocolate shop on Main Street — is always looking for ways to give back to the community. Last year she raised nearly $10,000 for hurricane relief, children’s cancer research and various charities.

This year, she’s reprising her “Give a Little Love” chocolate heart campaign.

The idea is simple: Buy a selected item, and 10% of the proceeds go to a different charity — every month throughout the year.

“Give a Little Love” with these chocolates.

Included are one-of-a-kind hand-painted chocolate portraits, champagne truffles (for her), bourbon and ale truffles (for him), hand-painted heart puzzles, moulded chocolate purses and cars, open truffle flowers, preserved rose truffles and ganache cake — and anything for sale in Le Rouge’s red heart box.

There’s a lot to love about Aarti.

On Valentine’s Day, and every other one.

(Le Rouge by Aarti is at 190 Main Street, beneath the former Sally’s Place.)

Aarti Khosla, in her red-and-black-themed chocolate shop.

Aarti Is All In For The Cure

Aarti Khosla is one of my — and Westport’s — favorite people.

The owner of Le Rouge — the fantastic handmade chocolate shop on Main Street, just past Avery Place — is always the first to donate funds (or treats) for any good cause.

Today she went one step further.

As part of her mission to help the St. Baldrick Foundation raise money for childhood cancer research, she set a personal goal of $5,500.

Friends, family and customers pledged $6,783.

So today, Aarti sat down to fulfill her side of the deal.

Aarti Khosla before …

… during …

… and after the St. Baldrick’s fundraiser, at the Westport Weston Family YMCA.

She’s proud to do her part to help kids who are battling severe illnesses.

Now it’s your turn.

You can still donate to Aarti’s page. Just click here.

Then have some of her chocolates. They — and the knowledge of doing good — will make you feel great!

The Oscars: The Sequel

“La La Land” won the Academy Award for Best Picture last night — until it didn’t.

But the old-fashioned, new-fangled musical about hopes and dreams still picked up an admirable 6 Oscars.

And — in addition to Staples High School graduate Justin Paul — there in Los Angeles to share in the glory was Westporter Joelle Berger. Her son Fred was a “La La Land” producer.

When she flew to California for the 89th annual ceremony, she did not go empty-handed.

Mom brought along a special treat: a chocolate creation of a scene from the movie, hand-crafted by Le Rouge owner Aarti Khosla.

Aarti Khosla's chocolate rendition of "La La Land."

Aarti Khosla’s chocolate rendition of “La La Land.”

Fred Berger had just finished his acceptance speech, when fellow producer Jordan Horowitz announced that, actually, “Moonlight” was the Oscar winner.

Publicly Fred, Justin and the rest of the cast were gracious winners/losers.

I have no idea what went on afterward, backstage. But hopefully they had a chance to drown their disappointment in chocolate.

Give A Little Le Rouge Love: The Sequel

On Sunday, “06880” gave a shout-out to Aarti Khosla. The owner of Le Rouge — the fantastic downtown artisan chocolate shop — is offering handmade hearts for just $5 each. She wants folks to give them to people who have made a difference in someone’s life. “Give a Little Love,” she calls her campaign.

Yesterday, there were lines out the door. Today, countless customers handed out untold numbers of chocolate hearts. What a way to celebrate Valentine’s Day!

Aarti welcomes photos of the recipients. She’ll display them on a “Wall of Love” in her cafe.

You’ll want to see it. But here’s a sneak peek:

give-a-little-love-skye-trader-joes

That’s Doris Ghitelman, bestowing her random act of kindness on Shy, one of Trader Joe’s superb employees.

“She always greets me with a smile, and inspires me with her generous spirit and drive,” Doris says. “Today I let her know how much I appreciate her.”

Doris adds: “When she’s not working at Trader Joe’s, Shy is an immigration law student at Georgetown University in Washington, DC.”

Aarti’s campaign runs all through February. So there’s plenty of time for all of us to join Doris and Shy, and “give a little love.”