It is a quirky, touching, funny and overall captivating documentary about 16 chefs competing in the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France MOF) competition. This is the Olympics of French patisserie, a three day competition that takes place every 4 years and involves years of planning and months of practice and preparation. The documentary closely follows three of the competitors (one of whom is based in Chicago), giving insights into the grueling competition and it’s toll on the competitors. For the winners status, validation and jubilation and for the losers despondency and the question of whether to devote another 4 years of their life to a second attempt. At times the pressure of the event is hard to watch and you will develop a profound appreciation for the fragility of sugar.
You don’t need to be an avid baker to enjoy this movie. It’s more about craftsmanship, the pursuit of excellence and intense competition. While the arena is pastry rather than athletics, the physical and emotional toll is the same.
Some additional pointers- This is not a movie to watch hungry. The Gateway Film Center has a cafe serving sandwiches and other food which you can take into the theater. They also have 20 beers on tap. Wexner members can watch the movie for $5.
Today’s matinee was accompanied by a reception hosted by Pistacia Vera and watching the documentary renewed my appreciation for the skill and precision that goes into each macaron or slice of gateau. Thanks to Pistacia Vera for such a wonderful spread.