16 April 2011

Weekend Cooking: Kings of Pastry (Review)

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While browsing through Netflix a few weeks ago, I ran across a documentary called Kings of Pastry, directed by Chris Hegedus and D. A. Pennebaker.

In France, the best of the best pastry chefs earn the privilege of wearing a red, white, and blue collar by passing a grueling three-day competition. The event is held only once every four years, and although everyone who enters can pass, very few end up meeting the judges' approval.

Competing chefs practice for years to perfect their techniques in show pieces, sugar work, baking, and decorating. Each competition has a different theme, so the particular pastries cannot be finalized until the theme is announced. Chefs work on their recipes for taste, presentation, decoration, technique, and speed.

Once the competition begins, chefs have only three days to create the required pieces for the judges. Their baking and sugar work are done in an unfamiliar kitchen and under weather and temperature conditions that cannot be accurately predicted. Reputations, money, and careers are on the line, and emotions are very close to the surface.

The documentary follows two chefs in particular -- one who lives in France and one who lives in the United States. The commitment to the competition involves years of effort outside normal work obligations, and the support of family, friends, and colleagues is critical.

A fascinating film that is well worth renting. The trailer gives you an idea of what the documentary is like.


Marg 4/16/11, 6:17 AM  

This looks like a fun doco to watch! Some of those creations are AMAZING!

Uniflame 4/16/11, 6:19 AM  

This sounds really interesting :) Thanks for sharing :)

caite 4/16/11, 6:21 AM  

I remember seeing something on TV about this contest once...it is intense.

Alex 4/16/11, 8:18 AM  

I will have to show this to my niece who is visiting for the week. She wants to be a pastry chef and, at 8, has already started doing things. Today we go to the Cake Boss bakery in Hoboken. But I think she will enjoy this post and she will probably want to rent the documentry too.
When I was 8, I just wanted to get through 3rd grade.

Alex 4/16/11, 8:19 AM  

I meant to thank you for this great idea for the coming week - so thank you:)

Carol @ There's Always Thyme to Cook 4/16/11, 8:26 AM  

Love the expressions when they were tasting! Thanks for the heads up on this, I'll look for it on Netflix. I enjoyed the clip!

Anonymous,  4/16/11, 8:41 AM  

I loved this trailer. Think I'll have to get it from Netflix for the quote about "grown men sobbing" alone! LOL

And the expressions - lol!

Beth 4/16/11, 8:45 AM  

I must watch this--I love pastry, and French pastry is the best!

Julie Goucher 4/16/11, 8:53 AM  

Looks very interesting - thanks for sharing.

Julie P. 4/16/11, 9:13 AM  

Interesting post -- I'll have to check it out.

Rikki 4/16/11, 9:25 AM  

This sounds like an interesting show. Being a cook already puts a strain on families without the additional stress. So I can imagine what those guys are going through.

bermudaonion 4/16/11, 9:34 AM  

This sounds like something Carl would adore - I'm going to tell him about it.

Esme 4/16/11, 11:12 AM  

I had never heard of this movie-thanks I think I would enjoy it.

Kate 4/16/11, 11:34 AM  

This looks fantastic! I wonder if I can find it online?

Nan 4/16/11, 11:49 AM  

If we ever get a faster speed internet I'll stream this from Netflix. We don't have an account anymore. If I had two more lifetimes, I'd want to 1. raise racehorses and 2. be a pastry chef!

Diann 4/16/11, 12:18 PM  

This looks like it would be interesting. Thanks for hosting!

Margot 4/16/11, 12:26 PM  

I love your description of this film. It's going on my queue immediately.

Amused 4/16/11, 1:45 PM  

I've seen this documentary out there and love foodie shows so I'm happy to see this one is worth renting!

Nicole (Linus's Blanket) 4/16/11, 3:34 PM  

Some parts of cooking just seem so labor intensive to me, and I must admit that pastry making seems like one of those areas.I'll do cake and some cookies, but while my icing is tasty, it is never very pretty!

Marie Cloutier 4/16/11, 6:09 PM  

OMG I want to see this! It played in my city for a week & I missed it. Must rent! :)

Heather 4/16/11, 10:35 PM  

I really must watch this. I went to the website and signed up for an email reminder of when it will air. Here's their link:

TheBookGirl 4/17/11, 9:44 AM  

I want to seek this one out. I am a sucker for all those bakery competition shows on the food network and TLC :)

Gilion at Rose City Reader 4/17/11, 1:02 PM  

I added it to my Netflix queue -- thanks for the rec!

Here is my Weekend Cooking post on Rose City Reader. It is about a great, usable, vintage cookbooks called With a Jug of Wine by Morrison Root.

Joy Weese Moll 4/17/11, 4:12 PM  

Wow! I had no idea such a competition existed. Looks like a terrific program.

Chinoiseries 4/17/11, 4:18 PM  

I saw this on TV a while ago, it was incredible to watch. Just seeing those chefs spending hours, days, weeks of their life to create something special. My heart fell when they failed and I cheered when they succeeded. It is really a fantastic documentary :)

Belle Wong 4/17/11, 4:56 PM  

This really looks like a film my husband would enjoy, especially since he's been doing more baking lately.

Col (Col Reads) 4/17/11, 7:08 PM  

This sounds awesome -- I love documentaries. Thanks for the review!

Anonymous,  4/17/11, 9:50 PM  

So...I wonder how you can be a judge for this event? ;-D

Ikkin-bot 4/17/11, 11:39 PM  

Did have time to cook yet, but it is about food

Michelle 4/18/11, 5:19 PM  

You had me at pastry! YUM :)

BookGeek 4/21/11, 1:16 PM  

Holy moly! I literally just watched this a week ago as well! Very interesting. I never thought about the pastry world as being so ruthless.

(Also, this is probably my biggest catch up on all your postings. I just can't pass them all up!)

Nan 6/13/11, 12:39 PM  

I'm back to say that I was able to rent this from Netflix as a dvd, and how I loved it. So different from those competition shows on tv. The judges were SO kind when the man's cake broke. And tears. What amazingly wonderful people. This was a real treasure and I thank you so much for bringing it to my attention.

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