Friday, January 28, 2011

The Kings of Pastry (Rhoades)

“The Kings of Pastry” Whips Up a Delish Doc
 Reviewed by Shirrel Rhoades

Yummy. I’m thinking of the Key West restaurant known as Better Than Sex. The delectable menu which claims this description consists of desserts. Maybe that’s why I recently posted a new mantra on my Facebook page: Save the earth – it’s the only planet with chocolate!
The documentary titled “The Kings of Pastry” shares a similar sentiment. Playing this week at the Tropic Cinema, it chronicles a trio of pastry chefs competing for the coveted prize of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France).
The competition takes place in Paris every four years. This three-day event features everything from simple chocolate confections to enormous pastry sculptures.
The film focuses on Jacquy Pfeiffer, founder of The French Pastry School in Chicago, as he competes against 15 of France’s leading pastry chefs.
The winner gets to wear a red-white-and-blue collar, signifying the excellence of his or her desserts. It’s presented by Nicolas Sarkiozy, president of the presiding organization.
Filmmaker D. A. Pennebaker (known as Penny to his friends) and his wife Chris Hegedus are the hungry eyes behind this documentary. Pennebaker’s been making films since 1953’s “Daybreak Express,” a five-minute short about the soon-to-be-demolished Third Avenue elevated subway station in New York City, set to Duke Ellington music.
More than 40 documentaries have followed. Many have dealt with the music scene, perhaps the best known being “Monterey Pop.” Others include “Dont Look Back” (Bob Dylan), “Sweet Toronto” (the Plastic Ono Band), “Keep on Rockin” (Little Richard), “Jimi Plays Monterey” (Jimi Hendrix), and “Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars” (David Bowie’s “farewell” concert) to name a few.
And he collaborated on a number of films with author Norman Mailer. (Mailer’s son Michael is now a film producer. I’ve visited with him in his Tribeca offices, a few blocks from Robert De Niro’s film headquarters.)
While he’s also shown a penchant for political documentaries (“The War Room,” “Campaign Manager,” “Al Franken: God Spoke,” etc.), this seems to be Penny’s first doc with a culinary theme. What next? Hors d’oeuvres? Soups? Condiments?
“My nightmare is I’m competing and something always goes wrong,” says one of the chefs in “The Kings of Pastry.” And sure enough, you witness intricate pastry designs collapsing, multi-tiered cakes toppling, and feel the sugar-rush pressure of this haut-cuisine competition.
I won’t give away the outcome, but you’ll certainly be perusing the dessert menu next time you eat out. Or you’ll be making reservations at Better Than Sex.
[from Solares Hill]

No comments: