I have to hand it to France when it comes to food and all things surrounding it. There is reverence and respect for food and the people who work with it. Not trite, flighty, media bite, super size respect but respect that goes to this nations core. Food is the essence of life and France does not take this lightly. This doc offers a nice, albeit stressful, glimpse into the world of the Meilleur Ouvrier de France (MOF). If you ever have seen a chef with a collar that looks like the French flag-that chef is an MOF. What one has to do to get that collar is what this film is about.
The story documents the journies of:
Jacquy Pfeiffer-a French native who now lives in the states and is the founder of the French Pastry School in Chicago and is coached by his partner Chef Sebastien Canonne-himself a winner of the award and founder of the same school. Chef Regis Lazard who works in Luxembourg and is being coached by the French Presidents pastry chef. Chef Philippe Rigollot is the pastry chef at Maison Pic, one of the only 3* restaurants cheffed by a women.
There is great insight into the rigors of the training, the tension, emotional and intellectual commitment of the participants and the stress of what it means to undertake this challenge.
The competition is a 3 day event where the chefs are graded on all aspects of their craft. They need to show proficiency in chocolate work, sugar pulling, baking, bread and plated deserts. They need to work without any help in an extremely clean, efficient and organized way. This is not something you just decide to do. It takes years of training to become a good cook in any respect but the level of well roundness that it takes to be and MOF is different than what it takes to be just a good pastry cook. And in fact it makes all those shows about cooking contests seem trivial.
The footage is well shot and there are gut wrenching scenes as sugar sculptures crumble under gravities pull. What I find compelling and what many will see for the first time is that when you are really in something you are competing with yourself not against others. Also, its inspirational to see the emotional investment of the judges and fellow chefs. We all feel the pain as that sculpture crumbles. In the end you see more men cry here than when Mountain premiered in The Village.
Writers: Chris Hegedus and DA Pennebaker