Thermomix – Is it a cult or the future of cooking?
I heard some shocking food news, and went all out to get to the bottom of it
I heard some shocking food news.
I read an article accusing Thermomix owners of being “in a cult”. I wondered what unearthly kind of blender could incite such controversy?
You may have seen this machine languishing in the background of Masterchef. You may know that it cooks, chops, squeezes, ferments, steams, slow cooks, blends, boils, kneads dough, weighs, boils an egg and has 60,000 online guided recipes.
You may even know that it claims to replace 12 other kitchen gadgets. But what is it that has stirred up such passion in the foodie world?
I really wanted to know the answer and so, during the first lockdown, with time on my hands, I went deep undercover, selling the most emotive piece of kitchen equipment I’d ever heard of, to see how it all works from the inside.
I thought that calling it “a cult” was probably nothing more than kitchen envy, but I was determined to find out for myself and here is what I discovered.
Men LOVE it
So, we all know that in general, men love a BBQ – the live fire, action and danger drives your average man to hang out with a beer and a mate and get stuck in.
I never dreamt the Thermomix would have that same 'BBQ effect' on my male customers, but it seems it does – and hallelujah for that.
One of my male customers actually went so far as to say: “it changed my life”. Before joining “the cult”, he lived on pasta and red sauce, but now he's rustling up casseroles, baking pies and has hummus and pitta bread ready when his bewildered wife comes home.
“I thought his first love was pasta,” she said, “but it seems it was all he could confidently cook and that's the only reason that it was the only thing he ate!”
She added, “We also do a lot of tag-team cooking in what has become known in our house as the ‘space kettle’, where one of us starts a recipe then dashes off for a shower and the other takes over - no instructions necessary and we love that.”
Tag-team cooking is great fun
Other people think you're Gordon Ramsay
This was a shocker. I have friends who don’t cook, and many of them would make great contestants on “Can’t Cook Won’t Cook”. When I set about selling, I thought they would be at the bottom of my prospect list but no – quite the opposite.
You see, no skill is needed to cook anything in the Thermomix, no matter how complex, and your friends will really notice the change.
After years of being a renowned and self-confessed kitchen dodger, a customer started hosting her own dinner parties and making gorgeous meals from scratch. Two of her guests were so impressed by this metamorphic change that they phoned me there and then to book a demo: her cooking status had gone from zero to hero.
Dinner party fun
It brings out your inner Marie Kondo
Never have I seen anything release such passion, and turn a perfectly ordinary person into a planning obsessive.
The fact you can plan your meals for the week on your phone, have a shopping list generated automatically, and then have the list go directly to a supermarket for delivery to your door, seems to really bring out the inner kitchen Marie Kondo in the most unlikely folks.
I’ve had non-foodie friends stocking up on mixing bowls, clamouring for citrus presses and ditching all those under the sink gadgets they have bought and never used.
I have to admit it's my pantry - I'm a bit of a kitchen storage obsessive!
It reminded me of my mum
When I was a child, my dad was a sales rep touting his wares across the country and staying away midweek. My mum, left at home with us two kids, padded out their income by selling Tupperware and the like. Not for pin money, but to save up for the family holiday in Benidorm (when it was still a small town). The selling model reminded me of those halcyon days.
At the company's weekly meetings I was heartened to see mostly, but not exclusively, women being empowered to run their own businesses with great online training. They set their own goals and supported each other daily via WhatsApp to get success.
There were heartening stories of cars bought, house deposits saved and previously unaffordable babies born!
Meetings were cancelled for half term – work life balance was deemed important and all were encouraged to make a visual board to lay out their dreams and aspirations for the coming year.
Many of the advisors were from countries where the machine is more widely known. In Italy, Spain, Australia and Poland, the machine is as ubiquitous as the microwave, but the market is just starting to grow here in the UK.
Benidorm - happy memories....
Finally – I had to admit my preconceptions
It surprises everyone, not least myself, that I am a convert.
Having spent years researching and writing about authentic food and traditional cooking techniques I fully expected to scoff at it.
Before I owned a machine I thought that it was a “meal making box” and that the food produced would be substandard, short cuts would be made, and that it would use many bought-in ingredients.
But now sat here, my fridge and freezer stacked with all the homemade basics – granola, energy bars, butter, yoghurt, hummus, pesto, long lasting organic stocks, jams. pickles, bread and puff pastry, I am not too proud to say I was wrong.
Sure, I could have made these things before, but I seldom did – the gadget made me do it!
You see the thing is: the guided recipes are only half the story. It is also the most powerful kitchen tool I have ever had and I’ve had them all.
Carrots chopped in three seconds – coffee beans ground in 1 minute – spices ground in 20 seconds – mind blowing power.
When I am doing a dinner party, the machine will become my sous-chef for my less favoured jobs – maybe making a lychee panna cotta or a two minute mango ice cream – yes two minutes... I kid you not !
Finally there is a bigger point I want to address.
I suspect that cooking robots may be the future of cooking. On the one hand I am saddened by this as people may lose their traditional cooking skills, but I ask myself: does it really matter?
I quite understand that slaving away at the stove is not everyone's cup of tea.
The important question is: will the next generation ultimately be eating better because of them?
In a busy world, people are keen to enjoy and share their food experiences but do not have much time to learn to cook. Often they can fall back to relying on fast or processed food with all its inherent unhealthy effects.
At least with the advent of cooking robots, people are making healthy food from scratch and starting to understand and respect real ingredients.
So in conclusion... one dictionary definition of a cult is:
“A person or thing that is popular or fashionable among a particular group or section of society.”
So yes, maybe I joined a cult, but it’s not one I’m looking to escape from any time soon.