Friday, December 10, 2010

Kings of Pastry

The documentary Kings of Pastry follows Chicago-based pastry chef Jacquy Pfeiffer as he attempts to become a Meilleurs Ouvriers de France, an elite craftsman of France. This requires passing an intense 3 day exam in the form of a competition held every 4 years. The ordeal is deliberately grueling, & the candidates are judged on everything from their technique to what is in their garbage at the end of the day. Incredibly stunning are the impossible-looking sugar sculptures that the contestants construct & then must carry to buffet tables. These are apt to shatter spectacularly, testing the mental strength of the chefs. I like the light-hearted, Django Reinhardt-inspired music for the film, but it is a trick & completely belies the passionate emotions of the film's subjects. The sight of grown men crying seems to be a standard feature of the competition. Many moments made the audience gasp.

I saw Kings of Pastry at a bargain matinee at the Balboa, a scrappy neighborhood theater way out in the avenues. Before the main feature, we were treated to a clever culinary-themed animated short, Western Spaghetti by PES. On my way out, I overheard the lady in front of me tell her companion, "If I had known the movie was in French, I would not have come."

§ Kings of Pastry
A film by Chris Hegedus & D.A. Pennebaker

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