I have never joined a cult. But today as the clever team at Thermomix supplied me a broccoli salad, cheese puffs and sorbet, well I was sorely (or should I say sorbetly) tempted.
I should clarify this. Thermomix is not a cult, it’s a food processor. But the admiration it commands and the loyalty of its, predominantly female, customers could almost elevate it to cult status. But it’s hardly surprising, the latest model, Thermomix TM6, launched in the UK on July 17th, has a touch screen and can access recipes from your phone. This is truly the 21st century we imagined.
The Thermomix was created by German company Vorwerk and is pretty much the food processor that can do absolutely anything. Want to make a smoothie, what about steaming some rice, I hear fresh sorbet is nice on a summer’s day and what about a risotto for dinner?
It cooks, it chops, it stirs, it cleans, the newer models even ferment. And it costs the small amount of £1260… See, I might have to sell my soul if I actually want to purchase a Thermomix, even if it is the best thing ever.
The Thermomix has a unique selling pattern. The food processor is extremely popular in Australia and has a strong following in Europe. Though Vorwerk is a German company, the Thermomix was first conceived by their French branch. A response to the French desire for thick hot soups, why not have a machine that could blend and stir all at once?
Yet the all-in-one food processor has yet to make big waves in the US or the UK. When asked, one Thermomix employee told me that for England at least, it comes from the culture of buying ready-made food from the supermarkets, while in Europe there is a culture of making food from scratch. Australia also shares this affinity with Europe.
However, sales are increasing in the UK as the country becomes more and more health conscious.
The steep price is often an initial deterrent, one Thermomix user told 7Dnews, “I thought long and hard about spending so much money on a food processor and did a lot of research. In the end, I decided that if a ten-year-old earlier model was still worth $1000, then it was probably worth it. I haven't regretted it. I've used it most days I've cooked since then, and mine is now the ten-year-old previous model.”
Another pointed out that if you cook with a Thermomix you will always have a Thermomix style meal, “It’s certainly a ‘style’ or ‘way’ of cooking you need to learn, however eventually you learn. I can use a recipe that isn’t specifically for the Thermo and convert as I go. No way could I do that at the beginning! I do find it important to teach my daughter how to cook the ‘regular’ way as she isn’t going to be moving out with a Thermi... or maybe she will, that’s another 15 plus years away.”
Others have a little regret over their purchases, but admit that it is rather useful, “I initially wanted one to just make cooking easier and more attractive. All the things I could do with it and the fact that it generally is pretty easy to clean, were huge pull factors, but I'm finding I just don't cook enough to always get its full worth. The times I do use it, it's an absolute breeze and I can make a mean lemon meringue pie. I just don't do any of the fancy stuff that first attracted me to it.”
Many are sceptical about the tool itself at first, but it seems to be able to sway opinions, “I don’t own one, but my parents do. At first, I was kind of sceptical I mean half the fun of cooking is the mixing and fiddling and making a mess. However I must say now I totally get it, kind of wish I had the money to get my own. While I’ll still bake by hand, I can try so many different recipes using Thermomix that would be more difficult on the stove. For example, risotto. I actually just borrowed my parents one to experiment with making pretzels and a ham and cheese pull-apart. In the wrong hands it’s a glorified food processor but if you actually like cooking, it’s not a bad idea.”
As one young mum pointed out it is efficient as an in all in one tool, “If you already have all the appliances, blender, food processor, rice cooker and so on. It’s probably easier to cook, because you can make multiple things at once (I’m all for making dinner fast). If you don’t have anything yet or no reliable appliances, it’s cheaper than buying them all. And storage!”
But for one home cook the food processor isn’t worth it, “The use of a Thermomix would increase the price per serve of my porridge to an extent that I can neither countenance nor tolerate.”
Time to join the cult? At £1260, it’s still too much for me. And anyway, who knows what kind of magic it will be able to work in another 10 years. I think I’ll wait.