Two chefs build 40-year friendship in the kitchen through mutual love of baking

Tamala Edwards Image
Thursday, October 19, 2023
Two chefs at LeBus Bakery build 40-year friendship through mutual love of baking
Local chefs David Braverman and Esther McManus have built a 40-year friendship in the kitchen at LeBus through their love of baking.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- David Braverman is the owner and founder of the beloved LeBus Bakery, but when it comes to bread and pastries, he still consults Esther McManus.

"I'm so-called retired, but I'm not, and I come when David needs me," says McManus.

That includes mentoring Braverman's daughter, Jamie, in the kitchen.

"I asked Esther to come to work with her on the more exclusive French-style pastries," says Braverman.

McManus showed her how to make different doughs for items like croissants and brioche.

"I love teaching," she says.

Braverman started LeBus as a school bus food truck in 1978.

"The menu at LeBus has always been simple, homestyle," he says.

When he expanded to a brick and mortar on Sansom Street, he needed help.

"David, I met when he was a student at the restaurant school," says McManus.

Braverman says he asked Esther at the end of class if she could bake, and if she would be willing to help at his restaurant.

"I came one Sunday morning, and I never left," says McManus.

That was 1983. McManus, a native of Morocco, had moved to the U.S. 25 years earlier.

She says she never baked before moving to Philadelphia. She had worked as a chef in the city, and after a trip to France to study baking, she fell in love with it.

"And I brought everything to LeBus," she says.

McManus started making bread, which she says was a novelty at that time in Philadelphia.

"We were the first one to do baguette," she says.

The bread quickly rose in popularity and business grew.

"We have a wholesale commercial bakery in King of Prussia now," says Braverman.

And a restaurant in East Falls.

"The bakery is practically on every table in Philadelphia. It's a wonderful feeling," says McManus. "I'm proud."

For more information:

LeBus Bakery

LeBus East Falls

LeBus East Falls
4201 Ridge Ave.
Philadelphia, PA 19129