x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Seriously light and fluffy

Kings of Pastry is a documentary about pastry chefs vying for France's highest-baking honours.

Director: Chris Hegedus, DA Pennebaker

For those who think they've seen it all in films about ballroom dancing contests and spelling bees, here's a twist in the era of Iron Chef: a look at pastry chefs vying for France's highest baking honours.

Kings of Pastry is the work of US documentary veterans with an encyclopaedia of credits. DA Pennebaker directed the classic 1968 concert film Monterey Pop. He and his wife Chris Hegedus collaborated on The War Room (1993), a look at Bill Clinton's first campaign for the US presidency.

And this isn't mere fluff either. Two chefs from Chicago compete for the prize of Meilleur Ouvrier de France or Best Craftsman of France. Losing, or even the dread of losing, can make grown men cry - and we see the tears. There is drama with plenty of laughs along the way. Pastries range from classic confections to fantastical sugar-and-dough designs.

As judges watch, the chefs sharpen their knives to race against time, and against gravity. Seasoned cooks despair as their creations (which re-define layer cake) end up in pieces on the floor.

A lesson to be drawn from Kings of Pastry is, as one cook puts it: "It's like the Olympics. You have to be good that day."

Still, there's consolation amid the tears. Architects must wait for ivy to cover their failed designs. Pastry cooks can usually make their less-than-perfect confections disappear by eating them.

Screening today, Marina Mall Cinestar 4, 10pm