My feedback after 7 months of Magimix Cook Expert cooking…
Before I start this
long post I want to say that I do not work for Magimix nor am I sponsored by this brand. Probably because of my previous posts and my numerous recipes with the Magimix Cook Expert, some of my readers send me regular emails or post comment asking me when “you guys” are releasing the machine in the UK, the US or Australia, where and for how much.
Well, I’m only a simple even if enthusiastic client and I have no clue about Magimix’s sales strategy. I gather information on these matters in the Australian press, Magimix’s website and when I had them on the phone (where they gave me pretty vague answers).
My adventure with Thermo-machine started with THIS POST and a real quest for THE machine which would make my life easier, as a cook, as a mum and as a passionate recipe developer. After a few months of hesitation, multiple demo attending and migraine inducing web browsing I chose Magimix versus Thermomix or Kenwood or KitchenAid.
I decided to buy it while travelling to France in July 2015, because at the time it was the only country where it was sold. I brought it back to Sydney with me, as an oversize luggage, signing a paper stating that Qantas could basically destroy it, I would have only the right to cry…
It finally arrived in perfect shape and it was with a colossal level of excitement that I opened the box HERE.
After receiving a lot of emails (a few every day !) and comments about my first thoughts and then about my short but intense experience on the machine (about 7 months) I decided, instead of typing the same thing over and over again, to write the most complete account I could on this machine. The idea is to list the Pros and the Cons so that, at the end of the post, my reader can make an informed decision on purchasing or not this Thermo-appliance.
Let me walk you through the whole “set” of tools and what I liked and disliked about it.
What I loved and feared at the same time was the fact that the Magimix Cook Expert came with a food processor. You might not know this, but Magimix is the leading brand for food processors in France and it has the reputation of being efficient, solid, durable and having a range of high quality accessories.
I have always wanted to buy a food processor but I remained faithful to my DeBuyer mandolin for slicing, refused to grate anything and got stopped at the idea of crowding my kitchen bench even more. So while looking for the ideal bench top doing-it-all-for-me-cooking-machine, I found the idea of a food processor thermo machine genius. I would finally be able to make decent meatball mince, perfectly cut steak or salmon tartare, grate my own cheese instead of buying the starchy commercial version and slice my veggies especially for recipes such as Gratin Dauphinois (French potato bake) or Tian (all sorts of veggies sliced finely roasted in olive oil and Provence herbs).
What worried me though, is that the metal bowl’s blade was maybe be too weak to do these things. I thought it might be the reason why Magimix offered the food processor part. I was also worried that I’d need a bench top space the size of two Thermomixes: the big and ultra stable base with the metal bowl, the food processor Russian doll 3 plastic bowls, the box with 4 disks (2 grating and 2 slicing) the large food processor blade and the egg beating attachment. It takes a lot of space.
In the end of course I decided to choose the Magimix Cook Expert. I now have a sort of Magimix corner on my bench. It’s pretty impressive but as I use them all the time, there is no point hiding them somewhere in my already crowded cupboards.
My worry about the strength of the metal bowl’s blade vanished. I’ll tell you why later (below).
So the principle of the Cook Expert is that it has one “electric base” on which you twist and click either the transparent plastic food processor or the metal thermo-bowl.
The thermo bowl has an inside, removable steaming basket with a sort of perforated shelf (I’ll show it to you later), and a blade you can remove to wash. It has another attachment which is the egg beater.
The food processor, in clear plastic, has 3 bowls:
– The smallest (bottom left on the photo above) has a very sharp and strong blade. It is ideal for small quantities: herbs, nuts, meat, etc. You just dirty this small bowl which means that you won’t need to clean the main bowl (plastic or metal) and anyway, as in any large machines, dealing with small quantities properly is impossible.
– The medium one (top left on the photo, in the larger bowl, with a disk on top) is used with a shaft you insert in the middle and on which you place the grating and slicing disks.
– The largest bowl has a large, sharp and very solid blade, Magimix style, to mince anything. I use it for making all sorts of meat balls such as classic French; Lebanese with parsley, all spice and pine nuts and Japanese with ginger, garlic and soy (recipe here). I also make my regular tartares including the classic steak tartare, the exotic Thai beef tartare, or the Asian and Scandinavian salmon tartare.
This large bowl can also have the disk shaft plugged in the middle to grate a whole giant block of cheddar for example.
What I find difficult here is the way you need to clip the transparent lid. It’s hard to lock it and easy to go too far, passed the lock. With a worrying sound it sometimes goes passed the lock and you’ve got to do it again. I must be too rough… I don’t know why this doesn’t simply clip. It’s a bit annoying. The good part is that I always manage to clip it the second time and even if I forced it so many times, it never broke and never showed signs of weakness. It’s just, well… annoying.
Placing the blades is pretty easy. By default, you get a 2mm and a 4mm slicing disk and 2 graters: 1 for fine carrots, daikon, zucchini (with the new fashion of putting it in cakes) etc; and a larger holes one for grated cheddar, emmental, mozzarella, gruyère, etc. You can use that one for veggies and fruits too of course.
On the Magimix cookbook, you see a beautiful tart with the perfectly cut apple slices. Don’t dream too much, they weren’t sliced with the Magimix disk which on the other hand, does a great job but not an aesthetic one… If you want a pretty apple tart, use a knife. If you want an organic looking one, use the slicer and gain 30 mins :)
Once you’ve chosen and placed your disk and you have locked the lid, there are 2 different ways to insert the ingredients to be sliced or grated. You can put it in the large hole or use a reducer. The latter is great for thin veggies and to maintain them vertically.
There is a line in the plastic which indicates the maximum height allowed. If you cut your cheese or fruit higher, the “pusher” will not be able to give the “go” signal and the food processor will not start. It’s a security feature. It’s the same for any brand I’ve seen. Just make sure you cut your pieces to the right size.
As any food processor, the last bit will be left uncut, or if it’s cheese, it will make a chunk or a cheese ball.
Now the metal bowl. It has a lid with a cap and a steam system. What I love here is the fact that 1) the lid is transparent, you can see the food being prepared (unless you’re going ultra fast and the lid is covered in food, and in the case of condensation) 2) the steam system is made of stainless steel. It is ultra easy to wash, no smelly or stained plastic.
The steam system has 2 parts: a basket with “anti egg rolling indentations” and a shelf.
This allows you to steam 2 layers at the same time (fish/chicken together with veggies, or couscous semolina with veggies, etc).
An important thing to note is that you can cook something in the bowl and steam something on top. The metal bowl’s blade can turn while there is the basket on top. Imagine making a soup and cooking eggs on top, or chicken, or glutinous rice.
Many thermo-machine makers argue that the steam basket has to be external to do that. Not for the Magimix Cook Expert.
The steam basket is pretty deep. Despite its holes which are quite large, I cook my glutinous rice without a mesh or cheese cloth. I lose less than 5 grains in the boiling water ;)
I use this steamer all the time! It is super efficient, great for veggies I serve very regularly to the kids with a slither of salty butter and herb salt (such as Herbamare) and some home-grated cheddar sprinkled on top.
You can steam veggies of course but also rice, cakes, dumplings, bao buns, muffins, fruits, chicken, fish, etc. I find it faster than my previous steamer and soooo much easier to wash.
And finally, this is the blade and the water level.
Talking of level, I have pushed the limit of the machine to its extreme and poured way over the limit and it worked like a dream. The real capacity of the Cook Expert is a true strong point. I have to feed at least 5 people 2 to 3 times a day. The size of the bowl is plenty enough for my family.
The options on this machine are quite flexible: you can cook from no heating, then 30 to 140°C; you can choose different speeds or none at all. The blade can remain immobile. Speed 1A is very slow (A for alternating). It will turn slowly for a short while, then stops and repeats. This is ideal for stews. 2A is a bit faster and still alternating. I use it for risottos, rice puddings, dhals, etc. Then the lowest continuous speed is 3 and the highest and extremely fast speed is 18.
I have read in the recent comparative articles (The Good Food in the Sydney Morning Herald, Choice, etc) that the Magimix defeats the purpose of an all in one machine with its Food processor. I don’t agree with that. You can do everything the Thermomix can do in the bowl. Some say the metal bowl and blades are not as powerful for the milling part (for people making their own flour). I cannot compare as I didn’t see the Thermomix in action for this part. But I can say that I do mill my flour in the metal bowl and it works. It is not as fine as an electric stone mill (my dream… one day) but it makes great bread.
I have also seen people arguing that because of its giant bowl it doesn’t do small quantities as well as the smaller and more vertical bowls of other machines. That might be right.
I see the 2 in 1 machine: food processor + thermo appliance, as an enormous plus compared to Thermomix or others. I loooove the ultra fast slicing for large vegetable bakes, salads, tarts, etc. Yes you need to clip another attachment on the base, but geez, I love it. I heard that Tefal is now offering this option in France. It’s a huge plus but if you want to keep this attachment in the cupboard, you can, and the metal bowl will do as well as a Thermie.
While we’re looking at this blade (photo above) let’s talk about mushy food and reverse movements. All blade based systems will mush food more than a spoon. Personally I think that the reverse system of the Thermomix obtains similar results as the Magimix with its one way movement. You can actually cook a chicken curry with absolutely perfect little cubes of chicken, firm and intact. Remember that you can also set the blade on ZERO (immobile). It turns your Cook Expert into a slow cooker. For curries, meat cubes and other meat dishes, you can cook on slow alternating speeds such as 1A and 2A. I will think of some good recipes and add them to the list.
That being said, I also love making stews in a cast iron pot for 5 hours in the oven.
These are the accessories or attachments which will stay on your bench or will have to go in the cupboard: the grating and slicing disks box, the large food processor blade, the egg whisk and the disk shaft (which you can actually drop in the food processor for storage).
The egg beater or butterfly attachment is used to beat egg whites, smooth out sauces, and make a delicious mash with previously steamed veggies.
A quick shot (above) to show you the disks. It’s hard to see the different thicknesses between the 2 and the 4mm but you can tell one grater is clearly thicker than the other. I use the small one for carrots and the big one for cheddar (and of course many other things)
I hope the new version of the machine will be easier to “dial”. I would have preferred a knob system. I don’t like to have to use the black buttons on the sides to change from speed, temperature and minutes, then to go + or -. I get confused when I’m in a hurry, it’s annoying. I feel that there should be a lot less of pressing buttons to do.
Imagine you want 5 mins of speed 10 at 130°C. You will have to light up the minutes, press so many times to get five minutes (or remain pressed and then it goes very quickly over) then press another button to light up speed, then another buttons to press + 10 times, then back to the button to light up degrees, and press so many times to get to 130°C.
Of course it is a minor problem and doesn’t not ruin the experience for me, although I need to get it off my chest (and have reported my humble opinion to Magimix).
Also, while we’re looking at it, the base which can be red or many other colours, is a very heavy piece of equipment. This could go in the negative column on your notes but it is actually one of the big strong points of this machine. The stability brought by the solid base is fantastic. Even when crushing ice at speed 18 it hardly moves unlike most other similar appliances.
The lid is easy to put on and off. The cap too and for the latter, it is actually a problem. It’s hard to know when it’s properly on… This means that when you take the lid off, you often see the cap with hot condensation fall to the ground…
As I said before, the transparent lid is a plus.
A word on the cap, I like the fact that you’re not babysat here, the black cap can be on or off, it’s your choice. If you have a 140°C hot liquid at a very high speed and no cap, guess what would happen… But because you know that beforehand, you make sure doesn’t happen. Well… it hasn’t happened yet.
OK…. this is what happens sometimes. A few recipes from the book, or from my imagination, have this effect (photo above) on your bowl. This was the recipe book dhal.
Don’t panic… use the rinse program, which is great, with hot water and detergent. If it’s still there after scrubbing, leave it overnight.
A very big advantage of this machine is that every single piece (except the base of course) goes in the dishwasher.
The blades are a bit tricky to wash. There is a small gap in this blade block which is hard to wash and definitely needs a brush to clean. The rinsing program is a big help as is soaking in hot soapy water.
Last but not least, the cookbook, which is part of the Cook Expert package, contains 300 recipes. It’s a great start to get to know the machine before experimenting your own recipes which you definitely will very soon.
The book contains great basic recipes and very nice creations. Some of them I didn’t like at all (the chocolate tart with salted caramel and nuts, the French tart, the blinis) and some I totally fell in love with (Vichyssoise soup, mash, risotto, rice pudding, dhal, pastry dough, financier, hollandaise sauce, spaghetti carbonara, salmon tartare, brandade, carrot soup, cream of cauliflower, floating islands – with my own technique for the egg-whites, etc)
A few days ago, I got challenged by some friends to cook every single one of the 300 recipes. Well, I rolled my sleeves and started to cook them… It’s just the start of a fun journey. Keep an eye on THAT SPACE where I will be publishing the recipes from the book and of course my own.
You can see post-its on top (photo above) the pages are actually covered in them. I change them according to my taste and style.
This is the end of the tour. If you have questions I’m here to help and share my experience. I’ll reply very quickly to your comments. Also, some of you might decide to buy this machine and in that case I would love to hear your feedback too :)
A BIT MORE ABOUT THE COOK EXPERT
– A must have when you’ve got kids, from baby food to everyday meals, this machine cuts your prep time so much that you can attend you screaming toddler instantly (while it is automatically stirring your compote). It totally replaces all the baby food machines and can be used for adults too. Baby machines have a very small capacity. It will also help you make healthy snacks (balls, bars) with your own healthy ingredients minus the nasties.
– It’s a really all-in-one machine. Get rid of your old food processor, your stand mixer (except if you’re a bread snob like me who needs a dough hook for sourdough kneading), your egg beater, your juicer (with the optional attachment), your smoothie maker, your sous-vide machine, your yoghurt maker, your slowcooker, etc.
– Sometimes you just love chopping, grating, stirring, sloooooowly, it’s so therapeutic. Sometimes, you just need a dinner ready in 20 mins. The Cook Expert is not the end of zen cooking at all. You can still chop by hand while the machine is making your dessert. It can do grating, slicing, cooking, blending, mixing, whipping, juicing (optional), cutting cubes (optional), slowcooking, steaming, etc, but you can still do a lot if you want to, or if you are organised, you can let it do every step for you and gain so much time.
– Its large capacity is really cool for large families, friend’s dinners, parties, etc.
– The food processor is so powerful and quick it’s crazy.
– All parts are dishwasher compatible.
– The metal bowl is amazingly efficient to keep food warm for a long time. You can make a soup at 4pm and leave it there until dinner. You reheat at 100°C speed 3 for 5 mins and you can serve it super hot.
– I love the pulse function
– Being able to put the blade on speed zero.
– The creamed soup (velouté in French) program is fantastic. It makes the smoothest soup in the world. Even the famous Bamix doesn’t do better.
– Making a pastry dough in 3 mins (plus the usual fridge rest) is magic. It makes me create crazy tarts just 30 mins before dinner. I spread apple sauce, chocolate or sugar, then the fruits and bake for a few minutes.
– The minimal plastic use is great. No bad smells and nasty colours.
– Induction and 1°C increments are amazing. You can really finely manage the temperature which allows you to cook “sous-vide” style.
– This machine is extremely sturdy. I’m a clumsy cook and dropped absolutely all parts of it on the floor. It looks as new as the day I opened the box!
– It takes a lot of room on your bench top (and in your cupboards if it is where you will keep the food processor part, the disks, and the large blade).
– Navigating the menu can be annoying.
– One gap in the blade “block” is hard to clean.
– I’m not a fan of the plastic lid’s locking system.
– The recipe book omits to tell you if the cap should be on the lid or not.
– I don’t know if my scale has a defect but this Magimix scale is useless. I love the fact that it can weigh up to 10 kilos but it is very imprecise. Once I added dozens of grams of salt for my sourdough bread when only 10 was needed and the scale was still on zero. I had to throw it in the bin. It changes from gr to oz all the time. Slightly frustrating…
Your best friends with this machine are:
– A good dishwashing brush, it helps clean the blade. You really can’t clean it well without one.
– Food grade cloth for steaming dough or viscous preparation.
– Arborio rice for your sweet and savoury creamy rice dishes.
– A freezer because you can make lots of things while you’re in the mood or during the week-end, and thanks to the giant bowl you can make large batches and freeze some for lazy nights (soups, stews and pastry dough for example). Now I also buy cheap fruits (when in the height of the season) and freeze them on a tray, then keep them in a ziplock bag in the freezer for milkshakes and instant ice-creams.
My favourite recipes with the Magimix Cook Expert are:
I make those very regularly because they are ultra easy, quick to prepare and delicious.
– rice pudding
– all sorts of soups (Vichyssoise is a must do)
– crème anglaise and all sorts of custards (coffee, caramel, chocolate)
– quick dips
– pastry dough, it takes 3 mins!!!
– steamed glutinous rice
– steamed veggies
– tartares (fish, beef)
– meat balls
– sauces, the hollandaise and béarnaise are to die for.
– chilli con carne
– crunchy salads (mix raw beetroot, onion, apple)
Recipes I couldn’t manage to do well at all are:
– bread, I can’t see how you can make a good professional sourdough baguette or country style loaf without a dough hook to break the gluten.
What I haven’t experimented and will very soon:
– sous-vide cooking
– slow cooking (I’m in love with my $20 Aldi cast iron pot)
– yoghurt making
– using the optional accessories I got: the citrus press, the juice extractor, the cube maker, the parmesan disk and more disks (thinner and thicker slicers).
NOTE: this post is not sponsored
UPDATE: Magimix has updated a few very important parts of the machine since I bought my Cook Expert (more than a year ago) and all the new machines are equipped with those. I’m preparing an exciting new post about this and also new accessories that I got during my last trip to Paris :) Keep an eye on that space!