Imagine a scene never before witnessed: sixteen French pastry chefs gathered in Lyon for three intense days of mixing, piping and sculpting everything from delicate chocolates to six-foot sugar sculptures in hopes of being declared by President Nicolas Sarkozy one of the best. This is the prestigious Meilleurs Ouvriers de France competition Best Craftsmen in France. The blue, white and red striped collar worn on the jackets of the winners is more than the ultimate recognition for every pastry chef - it is a dream and an obsession. The finalists, France's culinary elite, risk their reputations as well as sacrifice family and finances in pursuit of this lifelong distinction of excellence. Similar to the Olympics, the three-day contest takes place every four years and it requires that the chefs not only have extraordinary skill and nerves of steel, but also a lot of luck.
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