Saturday, September 10, 2011

Weekend Cooking: Kings of Pastry DVD

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that Paris has been calling my name over and over and over again! Given that there is no way I am getting to Paris anytime soon you would think I would stop torturing myself but apparently not! Kings of Pastry is the very best kind of torture not only because of the locations and it's intrinsic Frenchness, but also because of the amazing sounding and looking food as well!

Kings of Pastry has been featured in a couple of Weekend Cooking posts. The first time I recall seeing it was when the host of Weekend Cooking, Bethfish Reads, posted about it a while ago. At that time, I checked the library catalogue and they didn't have it, but more recently someone else posted about it (and I apologise but I can't remember who that was) and this time, voila, it was on the catalogue so I requested it straight away!

For those of you who may not have heard about it before Kings of Pastry is about the chefs who compete to become Meiulleur Ouvrier de France (MOF), which basically is the Best Craftsmen in France. The competition is run every four years and aims to recognise those craftsmen who are the best of the best of the best. In this case the competition for pastry makers, but there are MOF competitions in many other trades.

The film follows three of the sixteen competitors as they perfect their designs and recipes to come up with amazing, amazing creations. The key to success, as the judges say, is that the competitor must be ready, not only with their ideas and recipes, but also to face three gruelling long days in unfamiliar environs, with weather conditions that they cannot predict (important because sugar behaves differently depending on humidity and heat for example) and knowing that reputations and futures could well be on the line. These men devote years in trying to get everything right, trying to become one of the few people who are entitled to call themselves MOFs and to wear the all important tricolor collar that denotes their status. There is no one winner for the competition. At the end of it, the panel judges which of the competitors has displayed the necessary skill, the necessary readiness, to be worth of the honour of the collar.

Many of the spun sugar components are so fragile that it doesn't take much for the whole creation to come crashing down. Here are a couple of examples of the types of creations:

The craftmanship is amazing! For example, in the second image above, the flowers and the ribbon are both made from spun sugar.

I know that I don't have the skill to even attempt one of these desserts or cakes, let alone having to make more than 40 in the space of three days. Heck, I don't even think I have the imagination to begin thinking about what such intricate pieces would look like if it was up to me to design them!

If anything, I would have loved to have been able to get closer views of all of the amazing creations, but this was the first time in history that the MOF judges allowed outsiders into the competition and so there were very strict rules about where they could shoot from etc so that they didn't get in the way of the competitors and cause any accidents - they happen enough on their own without having the competitors fall over a cameraman.

If you like reality TV cooking shows, if you enjoy watching mounting tension and drama unfolding, and if you love looking at jaw droppingly intricate and beautiful foodie creations, then this is a DVD that you may really enjoy.

Here are two clips. The first one is the trailer and the second a short section of the film where one of the contestants talks about his chocolate creation.

Weekend Cooking is hosted by Beth Fish Reads and is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book (novel, nonfiction) reviews, cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, fabulous quotations, photographs.


  1. I'm so glad you gave this documentary a try. The pieces were absolutely amazing. The sugar work in particular looks daunting.

  2. Looks like a really interesting documentary. and a good virtual trip to Paris!

  3. I loved this movie. I was especially taken with the deep kindness.

  4. This type of stuff always fascinates me because the craftsmanship and the results are beyond amazing. I would love to see this and get to experience this magic vicariously. Those pictures and clips you posted were something else! Thanks for sharing this and putting the bug in my ear, Marg!

  5. I had seen the movie a while back, really extraordinary.

  6. I have read about this a while back, but still didn't have the chance to watch it.

  7. Uniflame, I am glad I managed to get hold of it.

    Maybe it was your post about it that I saw Carol or maybe it was Nan?

    Zibilee, it was a lot of fun to watch!

    Beth, it is a very enjoyable documentary.

    Bethfish, the sugar stuff is AMAZING! Given that the last time I tried to do anything with sugar it was to make toffee to go on top of tarte tatin and it ended very badly I am even more impressed!

  8. My library doesn't have this, but I have added it to my Amazon wish list. Thanks, those clips were riviting.

  9. Very nice post and videos. Very nice how to see they make these pastry!