The collar awarded to the winners of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. ... See full summary »
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The collar awarded to the winners of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (Best Craftsman in France) is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. The 3-day competition includes everything from delicate chocolates to precarious six foot sugar sculptures and requires that the chefs have extraordinary skill, nerves of steel and luck. The film follows Jacquy Pfeiffer, founder of The French Pastry School in Chicago, as he returns to France to compete against 15 of France's leading pastry chefs. The filmmakers were given first time/exclusive access to this high-stakes drama of passion, sacrifice, disappointment and joy in the quest to have President Sarkozy declare them one of the best in France. Written by
I'm always grateful that independent filmmakers have the guts to take us on rides through worlds we'd be otherwise unaware of. Paris is already famous for its exquisite architecture and cuisine; yet there are still unexplored areas, full of drama and beauty. These are places where passion overtakes reason and when the rights elements are ready to be channeled in the right direction, something sublime happens.
The film follows a trio of pastry chefs and the travails they endure to attain one of the highest honors in France. They drive themselves to the edge of emotional breakdowns, and though briefly discussed, transfer this tension to their immediate family members. The documentary shows how they experiment, venture, and produce some spectacular confections, only to dismiss them, run into unexpected obstacles, and some cruel twists of fate. Something the film fails to capture is what really exists at the core of the individual who eventually achieves greatness: that special quality that separates the winners from the rest of a very talented bunch.
There are plenty of mind blowing designs, shots of endless moments of frustration, and somehow, the final ten minutes of the film don't quite make us gasp. The celebration is in front of our eyes, and we are left wondering why is it that they managed to cross the line, where the unlucky thirteen are left behind. The president of the jury utters a line to honor the unbelievable talents of the entire group, so we know it's close, and yet, he also is very specific about "being ready" to receive the honor, and it's that elusive quality that we somehow miss.
It's a bit frustrating that someone who sets out to capture the beauty of this world, manages to present those culinary masterpieces without the right lighting, leaving us a bit upset we can't truly appreciate the level of artistry in those rooms. The colors are not bright, the light a bit flat, and we are led to believe the amount of work can break your heart and spirit, but the end products are not displayed in a way that would make understand what separates this competition from the others.
It's an enjoyable work, one that should be reworked in a way that can deliver more of that quality that separates the pedestrian from the sublime, one that truly conveys the moment when man is capable of getting very close to the divine.
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