The great documentary team of Chris Hedegus and D A Pennebaker have made enormously influential films like The War Room, which changed the way we see political theater. But they also have a taste for lively, entertaining docs like their latest, Kings Of Pastry, a delightful bon-bon of a film which shows why they’re such masters: they find the narrative, the personal story and the unexpected high drama in a pastry competition in France.
It is one important and grueling competition, to join the ranks of the best chefs and the right to wear the ribbon of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France. The filmmakers follow French-born, Chicago-based Jacquy Pfeiffer as he prepares for and competes in the three-day ordeal.
Chefs train as if for the Olympics. They do practice runs creating enormous towers of spun sugar; architecture counts as much as taste. When the cameras follow Pfeiffer and the other chefs into the competition – a completely different kind of war room – we gasp every time it looks as if one of those delicate sugary sculptures might crash to the floor. Inevitably, one does.
Kings of Pastry is on DVD and Netflix today. What could be better than chocolate without the calories?
Here’s a glimpse of Peiffer and his competitors: