Re: Does the thermomix julienne veggies like a food processor?



Wednesday, February 9, 2005

On Food: Welcome to the Alton Brown-Thermomix show


Back in December, I wrote about the Thermomix, the ultimate kitchen
appliance that's supposed to make all your other small electrics
obsolete. This contraption grinds, chops, warms, blends, weighs, steams,
stirs, kneads, pulverizes and a number of other tasks for a $1,000 price

My conclusion was that I'm not convinced I need one of these machines --
not that I begrudge anyone else from having one. The Thermomix is wildly
popular in Europe, where famous chefs sing its praises. A woman from the
New Orleans area found my story online and sent me an e-mail saying that
I didn't give the Thermomix enough credit. Her aunt in Spain gave her an
old Thermomix, which she lugged -- all 18 pounds of it -- through
international airports home to the Big Easy.

"My aunt has been cooking with her Thermomix machine for the past four
years. She uses the machine every day, all day to cook for her family of
five." She continues in her e-mail: "I have learned how to make homemade
soy milk, homemade vanilla and chocolate pudding, quince preserve,
lasagna, red beans and rice, chocolate truffles, homemade yogurt ... the
list goes on."

(To be clear, the machine doesn't actually bake lasagna or make
chocolate truffles. It helps in some of the steps, such as mixing the
tomato sauce or melting the chocolate.)

She loves her machine. Good for her. Of course, her Thermomix was a gift.

I also made the comment in my column that if anyone could sell the
Thermomix to Americans, it would be Food Network celebrity Alton Brown,
who emphasizes the importance of good, though not necessarily expensive,

Brown stopped in Seattle a couple of weeks ago to promote his latest
cookbook, "I'm Just Here for More Food" (Stewart Tabori & Chang, 304
pages, $32.50). If you want to read an interview related to the book,
visit and click on "New Book." It's a Q&A on Alton
Brown by Alton Brown, which is quintessential Brown.

I thought I would do a little matchmaking, so to speak. Brown had never
tried a Thermomix. He had heard of the machine but didn't want to drop a
grand on one to test. I called Chris Keyser, whom I wrote about in my
previous Thermomix article, to ask if he and his partner, Steve
Casteele, would be willing to let Brown try their machine.

"Are you kidding?" was Keyser's response.

Click to learn more...
On the appointed night, everyone gathered in my tiny kitchen to see if
sparks would fly between Brown and the Thermomix.

As Keyser and Casteele explained the basic operation of the machine,
Brown slipped into a serious face, absorbing the information. Then, he
kicked into action, opening the refrigerator to look for items to toss
into the belly of the Thermomix.

Like a mad scientist, and wearing a frilly blue linen apron, he put
carrots, celery, garlic, wine, a potato, parsley and some chicken stock
into the machine and turned it on. As it whirred, he asked, "This is
insured, right?"

Brown futzed with the clear plastic stopper to the feed hole in the lid.
There was nothing to secure it to the lid, so it jiggled as the machine

"This is a serious design flaw," he said.

Meanwhile, the brew in the Thermomix became stranger. Brown threw in
some Chinese sausage, which I had sliced for dinner later. He dug
through the pantry and fished out a bag of lentils, a package of ramen
noodles, a package of instant oatmeal with flaxseeds, and some barbecued
potato chips.

I asked Brown if he has a specific procedure he follows when he tests
new equipment.

"You'd like to think so, wouldn't you?" he replied. Then he dumped the
pantry items into the humming Thermomix. A few more ladlefuls of chicken
broth joined the mix.

"Those Germans," Brown said, shaking his head. "(The Thermomix) would be
really great for making lemon curd. If I had eight sticks of butter and
some sugar, I'd say go for it.

"Custard ice cream bases would work, too. This would take all the
guesswork out of it. I don't know that I would pay $1,000 to stir
custard, though."

We all stared at the machine as it churned. Since the pitcher is
stainless steel, we had no idea what was going on inside.

"All right, I'm turning the dial to 11," Brown said. Then he hit the
turbo button, which sent the machine into convulsions. "Can you hear it?"

I looked at him in response to his sarcasm.

"Me neither," he said.

After about 20 minutes of "cooking," Brown tasted the results. He added
some white pepper, red pepper flakes, curry powder.

We all sampled the concoction, which resembled a pureed soup. It didn't
taste as bad as we thought it might, considering what went into it. I
thought it resembled a diluted Thai peanut sauce in flavor. Someone else
said it was like split pea soup.

"I think with some acid, maybe a little vinegar, it would be good,"
Brown said as he picked up a bowl of dipping sauce I had made for pot
stickers. He poured the contents into the "soup."

We tasted again. The rice vinegar and soy sauce did add a nice dimension.

"I wanted to give it culinary validity," Brown quipped.

At the end of the evening, Brown reiterated what he had said earlier
that he wouldn't spend $1,000 on the machine -- even though he'd love to
have one to play with.

Maybe a long-lost aunt from Spain will give him hers.
P-I food writer Hsiao-Ching Chou can be reached at 206-448-8117 or
[email protected].