Mandylor plays Marco, a baker from the Bronx who convinces well-known chef Grace Carpenter (Holly) to partner with him for a national pastry competition.
Marco wants to win the prize money to save the family bakery, while Grace could use an influx of cash to start her own restaurant. Marco and Grace initially have an antagonistic relationship, but respect each other's abilities and agree to have a business-only partnership ("just desserts"). Of course, this being a Hallmark movie, before too long romance is in the air.
The two leads are appealing, and Brenda Vaccaro offers good support as Marco's very Italian mother. There's a cute subplot involving Marco's uncle (David Proval), who finds himself revitalized when a shy, much younger baker (Maria Bertrand) fills in for Marco at the bakery. The "foodie" angle is interesting and provides the film with a lot of visual appeal...this is not a film to watch on an empty stomach!
The aspect of the film that disappointed me was that most of the other contestants and the judges at the actual competition were over-the-top cartoonish, which was jarringly unbelievable in the context of the gentle "real life" story which had developed to that point. I wish the filmmakers had found a different, more realistic approach for that section of the storyline.
Bruce Thomas, who plays Grace's boyfriend, is perhaps best known to audiences as the "UPS guy" in LEGALLY BLONDE (2001). Dorie Barton, who plays a conniving competitor, is a familiar face from Hallmark films such as WHAT I DID FOR LOVE (2006) and THE NANNY EXPRESS (2009).
This film runs 88 minutes and was directed by Kevin Connor.
JUST DESSERTS is available on DVD.