My personal philosophy when it comes to cooking is to remember that, at the base level, cooking is just regulating the amount of heat and moisture applied/maintained in food over time (flavoring is a whole other ballgame, but that's for another post). It is for this reason that I often tell new Kitchenworks staff members, when considering the relative quality of comparable products, to imagine the kitchen as a tropical jungle. A quality product is the one that is able to perform well through wide variances in heat and humidity.
What does this have to do with Food Processors?
We don't carry many electronic kitchen appliances at our Chapel Hill location. This is for two reasons: we have a very small retail space and humidity wreaks havoc on electronic parts, including motors, circuit boards, and computer chips (which have become as ubiquitous in kitchen appliances as they have in cars) It is for this reason that most kitchen appliances only have a 3 year warranty which, in our opinion, is just not worth the price.
Cuisinart Food Processors have always been the exception to this rule, which is why they are one of the few electronic appliances we carry.
What makes Cuisinart Food Processors different?
The most significant design aspect of a Cuisinart Food Processor is that it is simple to operate. Their Pro Classic line (ie: their consistent models, not the special editions), have only three settings: on, off and pulse. The absence of a computer chip makes the machine much less susceptible to changes in heat and humidity (not to mention user error).
The most significant engineering aspect is that the motors are self-contained. Other than the fans used to cool them, the motor parts are contained within a water tight plastic shell. This prevents the parts from rusting or accumulating debris, which degrades the lubrication needed to keep everything moving.
Fun fact: Steve Jobs used the Cuisinart Food Processor design as inspiration for his 1977 Apple II computer.
But are they still that good?
Like any longstanding multinational brand, the Cuisinart company has gone through myriad changes in the 40+ years since Carl Sontheimer hacked his Robot Coupe and Julia Child convinced Americans to try it out. And, as has been the fate of many American-owned companies, the quality of their products took a significant dive around 1992 when they moved manufacturing to China (machines had previously been manufactured in France and Japan).
Consumers across the world lament the post-1992 Cuisinart Food Processors as weaker than their predecessors, which is a true and valid critique. The motors are lighter, which means the parts are moving more and creating more friction. Friction = heat. The faster a machine produces heat, the harder it has to work to continue to perform at that intensity. Therefore, the new models must perform at a lower intensity than the older models in order to prevent overheating.
However, many home cooks are still using French and Japanese built motors and Cuisinart is still manufacturing replacement parts for those machines (which we'll cover in another post). You can purchase functioning, used, pre-1992 motors online (Ebay has tons) and, if you're willing to do a little searching (ahem...not too far), refurbish your own machine for about the same price as a new one. Customers call us daily wondering if its really worth it to replace their parts or if they should just buy a whole new machine. The answer comes down to the frequency of use - if your Cuisinart is an essential tool in your kitchen arsenal, then its worth it to keep the old motor and replace the parts. You will notice the difference in quality.
So if they're not the best, why do you still sell them?
Though we love working with professional chefs and restauranteurs, our primary mission is to provide quality tools for the home cook. That includes carrying products that the average American can afford. Cuisinart Food Processors are still the best bang for your buck. Most home cooks only use their processor for large meals and events, so it may not make sense for them to pay over $400 for an appliance they only intend to use a few times a year. For the price range ($50 - $250), Cuisinart Food Processors are still the highest quality food processor brand on the market today.
Have questions about parts for your Cuisinart Food Processor?
Start here: How to Identify your Cuisinart Food Processor Model. You'll see links there to info and parts pages for almost every model of Cuisinart Food Processor.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call us at (800) 967-9755 and we'll be happy to help you identify which parts you need to get your processor back up and running.