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Featured DVD Review: Kings of Pastry

February 19th, 2011

Kings of Pastry - Buy from Amazon

Among the films directors Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker previously made was The War Room, the hard-hitting documentary about the 1992 presidential election. Last year they teamed-up again to make Kings of Pastry, which is about food. ... It's a subject that is a lot less important in the grand scheme of things, pastries vs. politics, but can the end result be just as compelling?

The Movie

The French take their food seriously. Kings of Pastry is about one chef's dream of winning the title of MOF, or Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, or translated into English, Best Craftsmen in France. With this honor, a chef can wear the MOF collar; if one wears such a collar without earning it, one can go to jail. Like I said, food is serious business in France.

This film focuses on one chef, Jacquy Pfeiffer, as he prepares to go to Lyon, France and compete in the competition. It's not a true competition, as it's not winner take all and multiple people can be awarded the MOF. On the other hand, there are some people who take the test over and over again, struggling each year and coming up short. (For one of the 16 participants this year, it was his fourth try.) The competition is designed to test every aspect of a pastry chef's repertoire, including plated desserts, lollipops, chocolates, wedding cakes, and the grand finale, the sugar sculpture. Fans of cooking competitions on the Food Network have likely seem many of these sculptures and know how stressful they are to make. Hell, watching the participants just carry them from the kitchen to the judging area had more tension than most thrillers do. I literally had to pause the movie while they were carrying these edible, and fragile, pieces of art.

A very engaging film, and I must say one of the great parts about it was the camaraderie amongst the participants. Despite the stress and the effort they put in, no one was an ass, or cheering others to fail. It's refreshing compared to shows like Hell's Kitchen, for instance.

The Extras

The extras start with a 5-minute interview with the filmmakers. We see Jacquy Pfeiffer put together a chocolate sculpture. And finally there's a look at the chocolate fashion show, which I've seen before, but his was still cool.

The Verdict

What the hell was I thinking? I'm on a diet and I requested a screener for a documentary about pastry chefs? God, I'm so hungry now.

Kings of Pastry is Food Porn, but it is masterfully done. There are not a lot of extras on the DVD, but it is still worth picking up.

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