Documentary director Laura Gabbert’s Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles is set to have its international premiere this May as part of the 2020 Hot Docs Festival Online special presentation lineup.
The film documents the collaboration between chef Yotam Ottolenghi — the author of Jerusalem and Plenty – and the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, following five pastry makers as they endeavor to construct an extravagant food gala based on the art exhibit “Visitors to Versailles.”
The London-based Israeli chef launched the gala in the summer of 2018. In preparation for the event, Ottolenghi travels to the Palace of Versailles to study French history and epicurean tradition.
Calling in a roster of renowned pastry chefs, he positions the evening as an emulation of French decadence.
Months before the event, each visiting pâtissier is tasked with creating a unique cake inspired by the Versailles exhibit. From sun kings to swans, tarts to topiaries, each artist attempts their creation amid challenges of cooking in a museum.
Exploring the relationship between modern-day social media and the open court of the French Monarchy, the documentary studies “alarmingly cyclical” intersection between food, culture, and history.
Ottolenghi and the Cakes of Versailles was selected to have its world premiere as part of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival before the event’s 19th edition was postponed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Select programming was subsequently shifted online.
The film is Gabbert’s (City of Gold, No Impact Man, Sunset Story) latest feature, and is filmed across three countries.
Steve Robillard (The Confession Tapes; Storage Wars) is producer; Mohamed Alrafi is executive producer and founder of 50 Degrees Entertainment.
Paula Manzanedo-Schmit, SVP of the Film Finances, also serves as executive producer.
Hot Docs Festival Online will run from May 28 to June 6, with a majority of titles to be made available for an extended viewing window until June 24, subject to availability.
Watch an exclusive clip below: