Saturday 6 August 2011
Kings of Pastry
A fascinating documentary about 16 pastry chefs competing for the right to become a Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF). The MOF is a competition held every four years over a wide range of skills. Thankfully the filmmakers chose to feature pastry chefs and not something like locksmithing. Not that the world doesn't need good locksmiths, but I'd much rather watch a documentary about pastry. Although any challenge undertaken with this much enthusiasm and passion would make for great viewing.
The film follows 3 of the 16 participants heading to Lyon in 2007 for the gruelling three day competition, where they must produce a veritable mountain of precise and delicious goods, with their every action watched over by the judges. The participants have trained and practiced for this event for years, refining techniques and recipes, designing astonishing works of art that they must then replicate during the intensely timed and controlled competition.
The judges are naturally MOF themselves, and of course get to partake in the pastry judging. At one stage they are told to judge each pastry separately- to think of each one as a moral dilemma! You have to love and admire the French approach to food, life and what actually constitutes a moral dilemma.
The competition is full of drama and spectacle, and emotions run very high amongst both the contenders and the judges, who are all equally passionate about the art, science and beauty of pastry. Those who reach the seemingly impossibly high standards become a MOF and earn the right to wear the tricolour stripes at the neck of their chefs jacket.