Kings of Pastry Reviews

Page 1 of 3
Super Reviewer
½ October 4, 2012
If you are interested in the culinary arts, you will probably like this documentary about three of the 16 chefs seeking the Maitre Ouvrier de France designation; if you're looking for an uplifting tale of overcoming adversity, you'll be mostly satisfied, though the director's angle leaves a little to be desired - it kind of felt like he just turned the camera on. The low budget filming bothered me, too. Interesting enough, and not much "wrong with it," but it just wasn't my cup of tea.
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ January 8, 2011
"Kings of Pastry" is an interesting documentary about the Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition held once every four years with a spotlight on Jacquy Pfeiffer of the French Pastry School of Chicago. To borrow a phrase from one of the judges, it is kind of like the olympics for pastry chefs in that not only have their entire careers been building to this one moment, it also entirely depends on what they do in competition which is stretched over three days. This time, the theme is weddings with a surprise in store for the chefs. Since this is a great honor that goes just beyond the cool tricolor collars, the judges watch the chefs like hawks in order to make sure they stick closely to the rules, so only the best have a chance. They are not the only ones as the cameras follow the chefs around as they create their concoctions which have to be handled as delicately as possible, giving new meaning to the phrase "agony of defeat." In fact, the judges root for their fellow chefs to make it, as the chief judge cries when he reveals how few actually qualified at the end. Even then, there is a happy ending for the film. However, the documentary did not make me hungry. Well, I wouldn't mind one of those lollipops.
½ March 2, 2013
Don't even consider this as a Reality Cooking Contest, this is a true title is at stake. After watching this documentary you'll never see your pastry the same way ever again.
Another production where D.A. Pennebaker comes through
August 24, 2011
Wonderful film about the process of becoming a MOF (a best of France chef) in pastry. Fascinating, emotional, and exciting.
½ August 17, 2013
I'm a sucker for documentaries about excelling in one's craft, and this film about the Olympics of pastries is a tearjerker.
June 25, 2013
Exciting, touching, and it definitely makes you hungry. You HAVE TO watch it.
½ September 8, 2011
Brutal. Just brutal.
½ July 20, 2011
Needs more pastries.
June 21, 2011
The rare movie that I think could have been longer. I would have liked about 15 minutes more, with a bit more focus on the other two chefs (besides the main guy).
April 22, 2011
Aos amantes da culinĂ¡ria!
April 17, 2011
This film is a nod to excellence in any field of endeavor. The nuance and sophistication that goes into any skill at the highest levels really exists. And it's a great pleasure to get a sneak peak at those seeking the ultimate patisserie certification, Meilleurs Ouvriers de France. If you are a foodie, you will enjoy this. There's little new ground in terms of format if you watch The Food Network, but the skills displayed by the best pastry people in the world is a pleasure to witness.
½ March 14, 2011
You won't believe what these guys can turn food into.
February 28, 2011
As light as a feather and as thin as a vanilla wafer, but engaging and wholly entertaining. And anyone with even a little bit of a sweet tooth will be driven mad by some of these confections!
Harlequin68
Super Reviewer
½ January 8, 2011
"Kings of Pastry" is an interesting documentary about the Meilleur Ouvrier de France competition held once every four years with a spotlight on Jacquy Pfeiffer of the French Pastry School of Chicago. To borrow a phrase from one of the judges, it is kind of like the olympics for pastry chefs in that not only have their entire careers been building to this one moment, it also entirely depends on what they do in competition which is stretched over three days. This time, the theme is weddings with a surprise in store for the chefs. Since this is a great honor that goes just beyond the cool tricolor collars, the judges watch the chefs like hawks in order to make sure they stick closely to the rules, so only the best have a chance. They are not the only ones as the cameras follow the chefs around as they create their concoctions which have to be handled as delicately as possible, giving new meaning to the phrase "agony of defeat." In fact, the judges root for their fellow chefs to make it, as the chief judge cries when he reveals how few actually qualified at the end. Even then, there is a happy ending for the film. However, the documentary did not make me hungry. Well, I wouldn't mind one of those lollipops.
October 26, 2010
When I still had cable television, I was addicted to the various food competitions and reality programming. It validated itself by actually demonstrating some type of artistry. I love watching the cake and candy contests, where with simple ingredients monstrous towers of baked goods would arise. The techniques are exquisite, especially sugar/chocolate sculptures. To know these intricate crystalline installations are entirely made of hardened candy is baffling, and the extents to which these sugar artists can weave is breathtaking. Of course, the stakes are kind of low. Sure, $10,000 and a little tin medal is adorable, but when you consider what the time and materials were to manufacture a 5-foot, several hundred pound cake are, it's not very harrowing. Plus, they can always come back on a later episode, or next season.

Kings of Pastry, a documentary by D.A. Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus, follows several chefs competing for the Un Des Meilleurs Ouvriers de France in Pastrymaking, a judging that occurs once every four years in order to nominate chefs for the honor and designation of being one of the best pastry craftsmen in France, and thusly, the world. For three days straight, they work to craft sugar sculptures and pastries, all by themselves, and then winners are selected and given the honor. While it's emotionally staggering to watch these men crumble after what is tantamount to a Herculean and Olympic effort, the entire thing feels like a particularly competent Food Network Challenge. Which doesn't mean that it's a bad movie - because I adore the hell out of that type of entertainment - it just means that it's not informative so much as manipulative.

Sixteen chefs are permitted to contend for the M.O.F., and Pennebaker and Hegedus address three of them. What makes the M.O.F. so outstanding to me, and what makes the competition so wonderful, is that these men aren't competing against each other, just their own artistry. Prizes aren't awarded to a set number of winners, it's based entirely on a merit score. They could give the award to all 16 chefs if they deserved it. And the judges themselves are M.O.F.'s, so they know exactly how magnificently difficult this task is, so they are just as supportive. When the sugar sculpture centerpiece one contestant spent days working on suddenly shatters into a million pieces, the judges are also overcome. They come by and hug the man, pat him on the shoulder, convince him to work quickly to just put anything up on the table, just to keep going, even though this assuredly means failure and having to work another four years of your life for that brief moment.

Like all works about competition, it's heartstring tugging. The documentary produced audible gasps and moans from the audience watching with me. You want everyone to win, but they don't, you want to cry for them. Unlike most competitions with assistants, it's one man making everything, so you can see the exhaustion in their bodies and faces. These are also top-of-the-line artisans, so watching them essentially whip up sculpture out of food is brilliant. Sugar sculptures are notoriously fragile, so there are tons of moments where entire showpieces crackle and collapse. And the contestant just kind of sighs resignedly and says, "Well, that's seventeen hours of work gone." It'd be like watching Degas tear a rent across one of his dancers and then just chucking the entire painting into a trashcan. It's total emotional porn, and it's thoroughly effective.

Pennebaker and Hegedus could have spent a little more time on the actual pastry crafting and the history of the M.O.F., but that's not what people want. You don't watch reality competitions to learn, you watch them to see people fall apart. And these, these are French pastry chefs, so they've got the stability of a ballerina carrying Rosie O'Donnell over her head. People are constantly weeping, from disappointment, from joy, from stress. Watching these men cranking away making sugar flowers look effortless and spindles that shouldn't be able to hold tiered cakes but do, is totally worth it. If you're a foodie, or a fan of watching cake-baking and sugar artistry, then you will adore Kings of Pastry. But if you are looking for something more than empty calories, you're gonna want to seek more substantial fare elsewhere.
October 2, 2010
Loved this film. What an amazing insight into the world of MOF. We were completely swept up in the passion of the chefs and everything surrounding the competition. Fabulous story. Many thanks to the chefs who were willing to share such a personal journey
Page 1 of 3