This weekend, President Sarkozy awarded the recognition Meilleur Ouvrier de France (mayuhr oov-ree-ay duh frahnse) to a new cohort of the “Best Craftsmen of France” at the Élysée Palace. The MOF Society has represented the best of skilled craftsmen and women since 1929. Their motto is “être à la recherche constant du progrès et de la perfection” or “to be in constant search of progress and perfection.”
With the advances in technology, the list of skilled trades now number over 160 and includes ones as diverse as stonemasonry, tapestry restoration, and chocolate making. In order to be selected, the candidates are given basic materials and the directive to create a perfect masterpiece. Their every move is observed and scored by a jury of experts in the field. Kings of Pastry is a 2009 documentary about the pastry competition. Intense.
Once awarded an MOF, the honoree keeps the designation for life. Claiming to be a MOF without the right to the honor carries a jail sentence. On the French news, I heard one of the new MOF’s in the division of flower arranging commenting that she had worked constantly for the last three years in order be ready. She said she’d averaged three hours of sleep a night. I hope that was just a figure of speech, but somehow I doubt it. This is serious stuff.