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In June 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art hosted a “Feast of Versailles,” in which celebrity chef Yotam Ottolenghi coordinated an international team of renowned bakers to conjure a sumptuous parade of fancy cakes. (Please hold your Marie Antoinette jokes and comparisons to modern-day wealth inequality in the US.) Director Laura Gabbert was there to capture the process, and the result is the new film Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles.
Gabbert is emerging as a leading food documentarian, having previously directed City of Gold, a tribute to the Los Angeles restaurant scene and the late great food critic Jonathan Gold. She ably captures the mind-boggling logistics of creating multiple elaborate baked artworks in concert, along with the good-natured (and sometimes not-so-good-natured) bickering between the chefs. For lovers of the Met, it’s also an intriguing look behind the scenes of the venerable NYC institution. Primarily, though, you should show up for the mouth-watering food porn. Some of the stuff these geniuses do with cakes seems downright impossible. It’s enough to make you want to bake something yourself … or lop off an aristocrat’s head.
Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles is now available in virtual cinemas and on demand.