Montrealers tend to disagree on almost every subject, but it seems as though we have a general consensus on our hands: Léché Desserts is one of the most delicious bakeries in town. I mean, utter the words “Léché” to the next person you see and the reaction will most likely be something along the lines of: Eyes rolling back, hands on heart and a simple, yet heartfelt: “yummmmmmmm”, and rightfully so. Josie Weitzenbauer’s unique and incredible doughnuts have been giving mouthgasms to… well… everyone. Anything goes; from classic chocolate to more uncommon cheesecake-flavoured donoughts. *Saliva overflowing*
Full disclosure, I’ve known Josie for about 20 years now (pronounced her surname correctly for 19 of those). I actually think I had my first drink with her: probably Crème de Menthe taken from somebody’s parents’ alcohol cabinet. Though we lost touch for a bit (hey, Facebook wasn’t always around!), we reconnected in Montreal a few years back and it came as a slight shock to me when I first heard her speak about cooking; just wasn’t something I associated her with, growing up.
“Yeah it came as a shock to my mom too! A good one though. It’s just something that sort of happened. I was working in bars and thought to myself: I don’t want to be that person who waits for the doors to open at 10am, to get a drink. I was going through a rough phase in my life and so I realized I had to make changes. Just didn’t know what. Then someone pointed out how I’d always have people over for supper and I realized I love to cook. Why not give that a try?”
Hard work was on the menu and Josie didn’t shy away from the challenge. Amidst a few bumps on the road, things moved along quite rapidly for the bartender turned chef. One goal was clear: culinary art was her calling. For what exactly? Bah… we’ll cross the bridge when we get there, right?
And so, unsurprisingly enough, Léché Desserts was just another unplanned turn of events that worked out. While catering like there was no tomorrow, it didn’t take the chef long to realize she had grown out her kitchen. A Craigslist ad later, and she fell in love with a commercial space at 640 Rue de Courcelle. Unfortunately, by the time she was ready to make an offer, the place was already rented. But, as they say, good things come to those who wait, because the space became available once more a few months later and this time, the love was consumed!
The place had potential for sure, but being such a versatile cook (the girl can go from sweet to savoury in a split second), the problem wasn’t about finding a place to offer a treat, but rather finding a treat to offer in a place. Doughnuts seemed like a full-proof concept; there isn’t anything similar in town and people are always going to indulge (le sigh). Three years later, it’s safe to say she gambled her hand right; she now owns one of most sought-after deserts joint in the city.
That being said, there’s something else behind the success of Josie’s project, beyond the doughnuts. Contrary to the popular sexist beliefs, a woman’s place isn’t in the kitchen: “I have often been in situations where I’d be the only girl working in the kitchen. Some places didn’t even have a ladies’ changing room!” Now don’t get her wrong, Josie’s grateful for all the knowledge her versatile experiences provided her with, but she knows better than anybody how hard it can be for girls with aprons. Léché Desserts provides a good learning environment for them, hence the pink and all-girl staff. Josie even insisted on pushing the girl power concept further by establishing Mommy Mondays: a day where mothers are invited, with their baby, to forget about life and just enjoy a delicious doughnut, for FREE.
Following her gut feeling has worked well for the entrepreneur up until now, so don’t even try to find out where she’ll end up in 5 years. Perhaps opening a few more stores here and there? Perhaps keeping an eye on the well-oiled machine that is Leche? Perhaps spending all her time in the kitchen? Just like in her bakery, you just never know what she’ll come up with next.
**Yes, you L-O-V-E the pistachio doughnut, but trust us, you’ll want to give something else a try.**
Favourite Bar: Honey Martin‘s. “Great people, great vibe and I just always have a good time there!”
Photo Source: http://www.thisiswhywerefat.ca/
About Caroline Royer
NUMTL Founder and Editor-in-chief, Caroline is an Ottawa-born Montrealer who has spent the better part of her life playing and listening to music. Otherwise, she is a diehard Sens fan, freakishly into architecture and industrial design and terrible at staying put for more than 5 minutes.