In 2018, the Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to open their “Visitors to Versailles” exhibition with a culinary event inspired by Louis XIV’s ornate extravagance. Restaurateur, chef and best-selling author Yotam Ottolenghi accepted the challenge and selected five of the world’s most innovative, visionary pastry chefs to whip up a dessert gala worthy of Marie Antoinette herself. Dinara Kasko of Ukraine designs 3D printed moulds, while Singapore’s Janice Wong confects with chocolate. London conceptual artists Sam Bompas and Harry Parr sculpt wobbly gelatin, while Ghaya Oliveira of Michelin-starred Daniel in New York City and “cronut” creator Dominique Ansel reinvent French pastries. But executing their edible visions in a museum setting creates unexpected challenges, especially as the eyes of New York’s high society look on. Meticulous research meets modern creativity in this behind-the-scenes peek at a sugar spectacle, which adds taste as one more sense with which to experience the Met.
Documenting the collaboration between world renowned chef Yotam Ottolenghi (cookbooks include Jerusalem, Plenty) and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles follows five visionary pastry makers as they endeavor to construct an extravagant food gala based on the art exhibit “Visitors to Versailles.” Exploring the relationship between modern-day social media and the open court of the French Monarchy, the film studies the cyclical intersection between food, culture, and history.
The latest documentary feature by director Laura Gabbert (City of Gold, No Impact Man, Sunset Story), Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles unveils the collaboration between the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York and global food sensation Yotam Ottolenghi in their retelling of the rise and fall of Versailles through pastry. Through the discerning and careful eyes of Ottolenghi, a deeper understanding of our world is revealed through food.
At a time when the French Monarchy lived in the public eye to help broadcast the country’s splendor and wealth, the king’s subjects felt only exclusion and unrest. Fast forward one hundred and fifty years to the advent of social media and we find a new populace broadcasting their riches, food, and prosperity. In its wake, we see a familiar longing for community, a similar patriarchal structure, and the same potential for revolution. From history to food, the film is an exploration of the intersection of craft and excess.
Directed by Laura Gabbert.
Featuring Yotam Ottolenghi and visionary dessert chefs Dinara Kasko, Janice Wong, Bompas & Parr, Ghaya Oliveira, and Dominique Ansel