Kings of Pastry

Rated 4.0

Documentarians Chris Hegedus and D.A. Pennebaker tag along with a few of the 16 chefs striving for the highest distinction of French culinary excellence at a three-day pastry tournament in Lyon. And what an odd and decadent little fraternity they have here, with its intense aficionados of cream-puff perfection and elaborately sculptural cakes that qualify for art but as such might seem irredeemably tacky were they not also edible. Kings of Pastry is unlike your average food-contest cable show both in presentation—shot on handheld digital video and set to breezy gypsy guitar tunes, it’s a stylistic antithesis of the slickly blustery Iron Chef—and in substance. The aspirants compete not with each other but with themselves, and one disaster prompts a tender display of camaraderie that’s probably as moving as any scene about a mincing French chef and his shattered sugar cake ever can be. Also, the bittersweetness of the ending has a true gourmet touch.