If you don’t live in Australia (or Germany, Poland or Spain) you’ve probably never heard of the Thermomix. It’s a kitchen gadget designed and made in Germany by a company called Vorwerk that isn’t sold in shops, or even online. Instead it’s sold directly to customers by “authorised consultants”. That kind of thing makes me highly skeptical, and more than a little bit scared.
The Thermomix has a hugely popular following here in Australia. It’s almost obsessive, for those who have them. In fact, it’s been likened to a cult…the cult of Thermomix. Another reason to be scared.
So what is it exactly? Well, it’s a kitchen gadget, but it can do a lot. The Thermomix Australia website claims it “unites the functions of more than 10 gadgets in one single appliance”. It can chop, beat, mix, emulsify, mill, knead, blend, cook, stir, steam, weigh and melt. Impressive, huh? It also has an impressively hefty price tag to match.
So is it a big con? A huge waste of money? A fad?
Well, we’ve just bought one.
It wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, though. We discussed it for months. I first heard about them when I picked up my second-hand Magimix food processor from a seller on Gumtree, who had just bought the Thermomix. I bought a couple of other second hand appliances – the sellers had also bought Thermomixes. I even ended up chatting to a courier delivering a parcel to my flat about his Thermomix, and his son’s one, and one he delivered to a customer who’d purchased it on eBay and got stung for huge customs fees!
I also found out that quite a few of my friends had them – and they aren’t the types who purchase expensive kitchen gadgets just because their neighbours have them.
Interestingly, no-one I’ve spoken to has one and regrets it.
It’s often touted as a great gadget for people who don’t cook, but want to cook. A great tool for making things from scratch. A superb way to cut processed food, packet sauces and preservatives out of your diet. Well I do cook, I don’t eat anything with preservatives, and I do make everything from scratch. So this wasn’t really motivation for me. However, I also make a lot of mess in the process, the washing up seems endless, and sometimes I feel chained to the stove. Plus I have a tiny kitchen. I have a lot of kitchen gadgets, all well-used but the kitchen is cluttered. I still need to improvise a lot. I mill my own flour and sugar, but I use the coffee grinder and it takes forever. The blender isn’t powerful enough to blend greens smoothly (for green smoothies), so I have to use the hand blender first before adding it the the jug blender with the other bits and pieces – extra washing up and extra hassle. This extra hassle also puts my boyfriend off helping out!
I’m not against expensive kitchen appliances if they work well. Magimix food processors aren’t cheap either, and they don’t do half of the jobs that the Thermomix can. The thing is, you can buy most other appliances second-hand. It is very hard to find a second-hand Thermomix. Maybe they are so good that owners don’t want to part with them. Or maybe the owners feel too foolish at spending so much money on something they don’t use that they keep it anyway. I didn’t doubt that I would use it regularly, but I wasn’t sure about buying a brand new shiny appliance.
In the end, the appeal of being able to unchain myself from the kitchen, have less washing up and MORE TIME (yay!) won the argument, and our Thermomix arrived at the end of last week (in all it’s plastic-wrapped glory, sadly). I’ve already sold my beloved Magimix, on Gumtree, and got back what I paid for it – no depreciation when you buy second-hand!
I’ve used it a few times so far, and my boyfriend has ventured into the kitchen a few times to try it out too. (Isn’t it amazing, the lure of gadgets for men?! He was never so enamoured with the food processor.) Despite the enormous number of button and dials it’s simple enough to use. I love that the jug is made of stainless steel, not plastic. It’s also super easy to clean and so far we’ve had great results. This morning I tried making green smoothies in it for the first time. It was lovely to not have a drink that involves chewing mouthfuls of lettuce.
Have I been brainwashed by all the hype? Possibly. Will Thermomix change my life? Probably not. But I don’t think it will be one of those purchases that six months down the line I’ll be regretting, either.