The Thermomix is designed and manufactured by Vorwerk with the ultimate in German engineering producing a machine that is solid, sturdy and built to last. Despite its extensive repertoire for the kitchen, it is actually quite neat and will sit comfortably on any counter top without demanding too much space.
Why Would I Want One?
The Thermomix is used and loved by the professional chef and the home cook equally because it is a work horse. It replaces virtually every other gadget in the kitchen so you can throw out the food processor, the bread machine, the coffee grinder, graters, electric whisks, the steamer, the juicer, slow cooker, et al.
The Thermomix saves an inordinate amount of time in both preparation and cooking foods. A carrot cake mixture takes 30 seconds, a lemon curd 6 minutes, a Creme Brulée which would normally take 1 hour 20 mins to prepare and cook takes 15 minutes start to finish and that trickiest of sauces, Hollandaise 4 minutes.
The serious home-cook will benefit most from Thermomix's claim of saving over £1000 ($1600) a year on food costs (based on UK food prices January 2009). Occasional use wouldn't achieve the same level of savings, but there would be some impact. The time saving benefits of the machine also vastly reduce energy costs.
How Does it Work?
Set in the base on the machine are various touch controls which turns the Thermomix into weighing scales, so ingredients can be weighed as they are added. There are heat settings from 0° - 100°C and coupled with a timer, the food can be cooked while you busy yourself elsewhere.
The Thermomix comes with a steaming basket, which sits atop the machine, so while one food cooks (a soup or sauce) another food can be gently steamed above it.
And the Downside?
The Thermomix comes with only one jug so needs to be washed frequently. Extra jugs are available approx £225/$360 or a chefs package which includes 2 jugs at £988/$1600.
For US residents - the Thermomix is currently not available in the US but can be ordered from Thermomix Canada.
My Experience Using a Thermomix
Though the machine at first seemed daunting with buttons, timers, speed settings it took very little time to become familiar and I was soon whizzing through the instructions.
For me, most daunting was the turbo speed needed for chopping ice, it is extremely noisy and the machine does need to be held firmly to prevent it skipping across the counter - however as it takes only 10 seconds was thankfully, quickly over. I am sure with more practice I would get used to the terrifying noise.
As a chef and someone who cooks every day I fell in love with the Thermomix, the saving on my time and energy was apparent to me in almost instantly. I would question its relevance to the casual cook unless having the coolest piece of kit is a must-have in the kitchen.