OTTOLENGHI AND THE CAKES OF VERSAILLES
TWO AND A HALF STARS Celebrity chefs let patrons of The Met eat cake.
DOCUMENTARY UK/USA #OTTOLENGHI
When renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi was asked to curate deserts for an event at The Met, he saw an opportunity to bring history, culture, art and cake together for one sweet night of indulgence. He also saw an opportunity to use the black-tie launch - The Met was promoting a new exhibition about Versailles - to explore the cyclical relationship between food and history.
He engaged five celebrated chefs to each create an extravagant, artistic display that not only symbolised the excess of Versailles, but would act as a springboard for discussion about wealth and power. His dream team: Dominique Angel, inventor of the Cronut; Dinara Kasko, a 3D architect-model-builder-turned-chef; Ghaya Oliveira, pastry chef at New York's elite Daniel restaurant; Britain’s celebrity jelly chefs Bombass and Parr; and Janice Wong, a specialist in 'edible art’.
Ottolenghi acts as our guide through the process, purpose and inspiration - reflecting on the chef’s choices and the impact of Versailles, and draws links to the repetitive nature of indulgence and excess as it plays out through history. Who’d have thought a macroon could be so informative?
Although there’s a sweetness to the documentary, one that wisely eschews typical on-the-clock-will-they-succeed-in-time hysteria of a food film, there’s a thinness to the weightier arguments presented. Unusually, this is a story that needs more than it’s modest 80 minute runtime to create a compelling, coherent argument.
Nonetheless, what it looses in history it makes up for in artistry as CAKES goes behind the curtain to watch extraordinary creativity and craftsmanship as each chef chases down the clock. Their creations are dazzling works of art, albeit designed solely for the elites who attended this Met gala. The irony wasn’t lost on Ottolenghi.