Since Julia Child gave Cuisinart her stamp of approval in the early 70s, Americas have been gah-gah for food-processors. The company has come a long way since the first Robot-Coupe prototype in 1972. These days you can get something as small as a 4-cup food processor, up to a professionally-sized 20-cup processor. Those who want the best of all worlds, and have room on your counter, should take the new Elite line for a spin. I should first say that I have been using my mother's old Cuisinart for years. It has super-glued cracks in the bowl, which has scratched to a beautiful matte-patina, and a motor that won't quit. This is what you get when you buy a Cuisinart. Although this one has past it's 20-year warranty, I have no doubt it will keep on trucking for a while.
What I don't love about it is that because it works so well, if I'm in a rush, I often want to use it for many parts of one meal and I'm forced to wash the bowl and top apparatus between jobs. It's like running a race but having to stop at each lap to re-tie your shoes.
Enter the Elite line. Three bowls in one that nest allow the cook, for example, to whiz pesto in the 4.5-cup bowl, shred cheese into the 13-cup bowl and knead dough in the 16-cup bowl without pausing to clean-up. The 1000-watt motor makes doing any of these jobs freakishly fast without a lot of racket.
Such benefits come with costs and if a small appliance is needed, this Cuisinart would not be a top pick. See the comparison above of my 10-cup model (circa 1975, complete with Robot-Coupe stamp underneath) next to the Elite model. The footprint isn't that different but the presence of the Elite is bigger in every other way.
Here's a run-down of my impressions after making pizza dough, sauce, pie crust, shredding cheese and vegetables and grinding nuts in the16-cup Elite Die-Cast Cuisinart.
What I loved about the Elite Die-Cast Cuisinart:
- The retractable cord storage. Every small appliance should have this.
- A nice wider feed tube. My small Cuisinart can't gulp up everything the way this one does. Whole potatoes and bell peppers plus a measured cup of anything pours in without mess.
- A nice pour spout on the bowl. My small Cuisinart has straight edges all around which makes pouring a nightmare.
- The lid pops off with the press of a button.
- The lid has a rubber seal so sauces don't splatter. Many older models required one of bear down on top of the lid while holding a dishtowel around the seal.
- The blade won't slide off when you tip the bowl to pour or scrape.
- It includes a storage box for blades and discs.
- Every part, except the seal around the lid, is easy to clean with rounded edges and a flush control panel.
- It's fast.If speed is a valued part of your cooking experience, you'll be impressed.
What I didn't love about the Elite Die-Cast Cuisinart:
- The lid, although "sealed" with a rubber ring, tends to collect gunk like flour when making dough and little bits of vegetables when shredding.
- It's huge. With the accessory box and three bowls feels a little like making a meal with a hummer. Old-school cooks who savor the process of chopping and kneading will laugh in the face of this food processor.
- It's heavy. I actually don't mind this so much, but for cooks who plan on keeping it stored and bringing it out only when in use, you might want to start training at the gym now.
Overall, this is a great machine for cooks who want to do a lot with their food processor and have room on the counter for it. Obviously, it is not a machine for people who enjoy chopping onions and kneading dough by hand. Loyal Cuisinart users will find new features like the spouted bowls, larger feed tube pretty exciting and folks with tiny apartment kitchens will be frustrated by its size, but maybe still tempted anyway.
• Buy it: Cuisinart Elite Die-Cast Food Processor, 16-Cup (Exclusively at Williams-Sonoma, $299.95)
Related: Should I Buy a New Cuisinart?