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Walking into the covered patio of the Authentic French Normandie Country Bakery, I was greeted by a pretty, petite blonde woman with bright pink nail polish. Raised in a charcuterie in Normandie, France, she learned her hard work ethic by working side-by-side with her father. At six, she butchered her first pig. Years later, she made her first paté. Chef Josette LeBlond is passionate about running her two bakery/restaurants, performing on her cooking show, “Le Cuisine with Chef Josette”, and making sure her operations run smoothly.
She arrived to America on July 4, 1985 and met the Executive Chef on the Queen Mary. Impressed with this delightful blonde, he offered her a job to make her tasty patés. Her patés became so popular, that she opened her first shop in Long Beach.
Later, LeBlond bought the 42,000 sq. ft. building on Cochran Ave in 1989 for the headquarters of Normandie USA. As we toured her facility, she proudly introduced to me one of her first employees. He has been working with her since 1985. He helps make one ton of paté a day for the restaurant at this location and one in the Farmers Market. LeBlond sells her paté to Bristol Farms, Albertson’s, Ralph’s, Pavilions, Gelsons, hotels and other restaurants. Sky Chef purchases her gourmet foods for different airlines.
From midnight to 8 p.m., her team bakes fresh baguettes every three hours and sells 1,500 loaves per day, delivered daily to area bakeries and restaurants. Chef Josette proudly showed me her delivery trucks, featuring none other than Chef Josette on the back of each truck.
After touring the party room, which can be rented for parties, weddings and special events, we sat down to an authentic French lunch with her sister from the South of France, Annick.
We started with a sliced baguette and a lovely plate of patés. The bread was soft and snowy white inside, and crunchy and golden brown on the outside. The duck liver paté with truffles, made from 75% duck liver, 25% duck meat, herbs and spices, is rich and slightly sweet. The duck meat is marinated in cognac. It was exquisite. A black pepper campagne paté with sliced pistachios was also delicious.
A plate of beef and lamb Merguez sausages with a dollop of French Dijon mustard was served in true French fashion. LeBlond shared that her family would have this dish for lunch and during barbecues in France. When she came to the United States, she couldn’t find a Merguez plate anywhere, so she started making her own. The small casing and perfect color make this appetizing sausage superb.
For dessert, we shared an assortment of petit fours. The lemon tart made from fresh lemons, milk, sugar and egg yolk, was my favorite. The raspberry and mango mousse is made from purées from France. I also enjoyed the fruit tart with fresh strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, pineapple and peaches. She makes macaroons in 12 different flavors. The passion fruit, caramel and pistachio were delectable.
On February 7, LeBlond opened her Farmers Market store.
“They gave me an offer that I couldn’t turn down. I wanted to open before Valentine’s Day to sell all of my romantic and delicious cakes, pastries, patés and breads,” she said with a sparkle in her eyes. Her baguettes are delivered twice a day to this location.
“I tell my customers to eat the bread today or take it home, cut it, and freeze it immediately. Then take it out to thaw and serve when needed.” It keeps the bread tasting fresh, just like everything else served at Normandie.
LeBlond offers catering service for weddings, parties, executive meetings, and corporate meetings. Her breakfast menu offers a range of items under $7. For lunch and early dinner she offers salads, hot and cold sandwiches, appetizers and entrees.
Hours for the Los Angeles location at 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Monday – Friday and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday. 3022 S. Cochran Ave. (323)939-5528; and in the Farmers’ Market, 6333 W. 3 St. (323)930-1944.
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