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Normandie Bakery
Caption | Muffins, baguettes, cinnamon rolls, cookies and more! Just some of the delicious pastries at Normandie Bakery!
Caption | Chef Josette LeBlond and some of her famous pastries. Photo courtesy of JosetteBistro.com
Harold & Belles: Gather, Greet and Grub Harold & Belles: Gather, Greet and Grub
Harold & Belle’s is a Creole restaurant on Jefferson that serves as a local hangout for people who have lived in the community for years. The restaurant was opened by Harold and Belle Legaux in 1969 and is still owned and run by the same family.
A Home with a History A Home with a History
The Jefferson Branch Library is the only structure along Jefferson Boulevard featured on the National Register of Historic Places. The building, with its rich history, was frequented by distinguished members of the African-American community while they were growing up. Today, the library remains a second home to the children in the Jefferson Park area.
Education on Jefferson Education on Jefferson
The stretch of Jefferson Boulevard between Vermont Street and La Cienega Boulevard offers a wealth of educational opportunities for boys and girls, with at least nine preschools and elementary schools. Whether it is a charter school, a Christian school, or a public school, among others, each educational facility offers a unique learning experience for the children on Jefferson Boulevard.

By Krishel Coultrup

“Merci beaucoup! Ciao!” Chef Josette LeBlond shouted to me as I left her French bakery. On Jefferson Blvd in Los Angeles rests her quaint self-owned bakery, Normandie Bakery. With her thick French accent and joyful personality you can’t help but see why LeBlond is successful.

LeBlond grew up in Paris, France where she learned how to cook from her father at the age of 14. She was his apprentice and learned everything from how to butcher a pig to cooking meat pates; these pates would one day make her Normandie bakery famous. Her first trip to America in 1986 she was offered a chef position on the Queen Mary in Long Beach, California. A month went by and LeBlond never left. “I love America!” she said.

Very quickly she settled into American life with barely knowing any English. She purchased the building that Normandie Bakery occupies and rented out the back of the building to some people who were bakers. When the bakery first opened her son Anthony was the pastry chef and she cooked her meat pates. Unfortunately, Anthony left for Paris a year later. LeBlond then hired a couple chefs from around town and the neighborhood. Today many of those chefs still remain at the bakery and now their children work there as well. “It’s a family here,” said LeBlond.

LeBlond never forgot the bakers she rented to in the back, especially because they stopped paying altogether. She said she evicted them and was left with hundreds of thousands in baking equipment. As the bright business woman she is, she took advantage of the equipment and began a full service bakery. LeBlond’s gourmet cooking and baked goods spoke for themselves and customers wanted more. Normandie Bakery soon expanded to other stores on Santa Monica Blvd, Sunset Blvd and a restaurant in Marina Del Rey. The bakery on Jefferson produces 2,000 lbs. of pate and 3,000 baguettes each day. The bakery also produces 3,000 rolls each day for catering companies that make meals for British Airways and other airlines.

The customers look at the bakery as a secret gem. LeBlond is passionate about cooking and what she does as a profession. She is an outgoing caring individual. The clientele at the bakery ranged from locals to customers coming from out of the area. LeBlond was greeted by two close friends/customers who couldn’t rave enough about the chef. Speaking rapidly in French, I couldn’t understand a thing. LeBlond has effortlessly brought her French roots with her to America and incorporates her customers in the traditions. Marco, one of the customers—who is French—said joking around to me “to not expose our little secret.” The bakery also serves food and functions as a café as well. Much of the cuisine is French inspired. The specials of the day were escargot, Coq Au Vin and veal stew. In 2001, LeBlond decided to retire in Las Vegas, but fate intervened.

LeBlond opened up a restaurant called Josette’s Bistro in Las Vegas in 2001. The morning of our interview she had just flow in from Las Vegas to check on the Jefferson bakery. Her restaurant is located on Flamingo Road in Las Vegas, but she will soon be moving she said. In addition to her success in Vegas her husband discovered another business venture for her, television. Today, she does a cooking show on PBS called La Cuisine with Chef Josette, teaching viewers how to cook French cuisine. I asked her how she liked it and she said, “I hate it! No, no I’m kidding, I’m just so good at it.”

LeBlond said the reason to her success is that she loves what she does. She genuinely enjoys cooking and the people that visit her restaurants.