The Melrose Ave. business improvement district will have a new French chef on the street come September. Josette LeBlond, owner of Normandie Bakery and Josette’s Bistro on Cochran Ave. will be taking over the present location of Maison Richard just off the avenue on Stanley.
LeBlond established and operates Josette’s Bistro at her Normandie Bakery, specializing in everything French from pastries to pâté. She created the Los Angeles-based Normandie brand, the first company to manufacture French pâtés in the city, as well as founding a wholesale bakery that turns out over 2000 perfectly fresh French baguettes daily. Oui, this same authentic and freshly-made cuisine will be offered when she takes over Maison Richard.
“It will be the same food I offer now at my French restaurant, Café Josette, and my bakery. They’ve been open since 1996,” she relates.
Always on the go and ready to try another culinary adventure, LeBlond also runs the Culinary Institute of Los Angeles, terming it a joy to teach the culinary art of French cooking, exuberantly presenting classes on everything from French home cooking to how to become a pastry chef.
The latter is certainly a technique she knows plenty about. She creates perfectly made delicate chocolate and pain au raisin croissants, macaroons, such as her savory tomato basil or pea flavors, and more traditional flavors such as raspberry, strawberry, pistachio, and delectable caramel. Her signature crème brulé, meringues, and velvety Passion cake are as beautifully presented as they are gem-like creations that are somehow both rich and airy.
Moving beyond pastry, she’s renowned for her pâtés. Versions she creates include everything from pork and duck to vegetarian pâté.
She took over her family’s food business in France, and built and sold a veritable food empire before coming to the U.S. 32 years ago. And upon arriving here, she did not skip a beat. Along with her pâté, sausage, and bread-making wholesale business, she also does catering; she’s even starred in her own television show, “La Cuisine with Chef Josette.” It seems as if there is nothing related to French cuisine that LeBlond cannot do.
Taking over Maison Richard from its current owner, Huguette Coffyn, is simply her latest venture. “Michel Richard was my friend since 1985. When he passed away, Huguette became the owner of the store. She has been my customer since 1998, and buys my famous pâtés and bread,” LeBlond attests. “Now she wants to retire, and she asked me to take over.” Naturally, LeBlond said yes, adding, “my husband passed away in January, and I need to be busy.”
She also took up this latest culinary adventure in part out of a desire to be close to Melrose Ave. “I’ve lived in the Melrose area since 1990, and I love it. Between my factory and my home, Melrose has been my dream.”
Her concept for the new restaurant will be to, “First educate customers about French cuisine freshness and customer service,” she says. She plans to have a soft opening on August 15 with; an official start date of September 1st. “My customers in the area will be so happy I am there. They will be ready,” she laughs.
According to LeBlond, she plans to offer her unique and classic dishes, such as “escargot, merguez, coq au vine and bourguignon.” Her mergez may be the most unusual dish on the menu, one which may not be familiar to many in Los Angeles. It’s a spicy red beef or mutton-based sausage that originated in North African cuisine. There will also be seafood pasta, chicken crepes, French onion soup, quiche, and a carefully-curated selection of cheeses and pâtés on the menu as well.
Whether you want to savor classic French meals or simply sample one of her almond pies, Melrose Ave. is about to become the newest location of gustatory pleasure for fans of Chef Josette.
Chef Josette at Normandie Bakery
707 N Stanley Ave, Los Angeles, CA 90046