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Are designer kitchen gadgets a cut above the rest?

Kitchenaid’s Artisan stand mixer

John Lewis has reported that sales of ‘professional’ small kitchen appliances featured on the likes of Masterchef are soaring. So do premium products have pride of place in your kitchen?

The department store says sales of food processors, mixers, blenders and other cookery gadgetry from premium brands have increased by a whopping 233% over the past month alone – that’s no mean feat in these austere times.

Attributing a boost in sales to a cookery show might seem a little far-fetched, but the halo-effect created by a high-profile endorsement shouldn’t be underestimated. The £20 Kenwood Mini Chopper found fame after Delia Smith named it one of her ‘cheat’ gadgets in 2008, and it still accounts for a healthy share of food prep product sales.

A price worth paying?

But what about stumping up rather more cash for a high-end kitchen product? The two brands highlighted by John Lewis certainly don’t come cheap.

Magimix food processors are priced at around £200 upwards, while Kitchenaid’s iconic Artisan stand mixer will set you back about £400.

It’s certainly not a case of style over substance – Magimix and Kitchenaid mixers generally fare well in our test lab (Which? members can log in for full results of our food processors review).

And as any Masterchef contender would probably agree, a decent mixer or processor can be a marvellous asset when it comes to speedy whisking, whipping, chopping and so on.

But rather like guiltily splurging on a designer handbag, I can’t help but think there’s something ever-so-slightly obscene about parting with this sort of money for what’s essentially a non-essential kitchen item – bearing in mind you can get a whole Which? Best Buy freestanding cooker for under £300.

Designer = quality?

We’ve found that most food processors, kitchen machines and mini choppers are, generally speaking, built to last. While you can certainly pay more for good looks, a celebrity or premium brand name, the extra money won’t necessarily buy a machine that will last any longer, or perform any better.

What is it about products like these that keep them in demand, then – great styling? A luxury brand name? A popular TV show encouraging us all to get busy in the kitchen? I guess whatever the reason for buying, and however much you paid, the main thing is that you get good value for money from your investment, and it’s not left gathering dust.

So tell us – is your kitchen adorned with fancy kitchen gadgets? Nominate the product you’d be willing to, or already have, splashed out on (and the ones you wished you hadn’t).

I’ll get the ball rolling. My one personal kitchen indulgence is a beautiful Gaggia Baby coffee machine that takes up pride of place – but, sadly, rather a lot of space! – on my modestly-sized kitchen worktop…


Well I spent rather alot of cash on a De’Longhi Perfecta ESAM5500 Bean To Cup Coffee Machine – worth every penny but then I loves my coffee 😀

I make around two cakes a month, and yet despite this relatively unambitious baking activity, I am still desperately keen on getting the beautiful Artisan stand mixer. Look! It’s so shiny and pretty and red! But then I recognise that this is not a good enough reason to buy a mixer I will rarely use, especially with a pricetag of £400. Your comparison to designer handbags fits quite well here, I think!

pickle says:
8 April 2011

Most designer gadgets are unduly expensive. For me I’m still using things handed down in the family – they may not be so cute but at least they are durable.

For someone who doesn’t lust over designer clothes, fancy kitchen gadgets are surprisingly appealing! I think the general trend for them is an extension of our obsession with home interiors. Like Nikki, I’d love to have an Artisan mixer – AND they come in about 20 different colours – but the lack of worktop space in my kitchen makes is something of a pointless purchase – I couldn’t show it off enough to justify the price tag!

I have to accept that my white Kenwood is a worthy alternative – even if it does nothing for the image of my home!

By far the best cook I know has a small kitchen and few gadgets, but produces an unbelievable range of well-cooked, varied meals. Many gadgets are really just status symbols aren’t they?

“Obscene” seems rather a strong term which one suspects might influence your view of people who have “better” gadgets. We have several items that might be seen as obscene however which have been bought for very rational reasons.

Dualit toaster. I bought roughly 25 years ago as I was impressed the one in my works canteen was a 20 year old model. I have replaced the elements twice in the 25 years. Easy job.
Christel stainless steel pans – the handles detach and stack inside each other saving space – and they work on induction hobs.
Induction hob – energy efficient and as speedy as gas.
Gaggia ice cream maker with in-built refrigeration unit – purchased 15 years ago and used about twice a year when half a dozen of 1 litre types of ice cream are made.
Perhaps the least purely reasoned puchased Type 301 Porsche designed knives which I have collected over the last few years. Gorgeous to look at and use when properly looked after. Blunt knives are dangerous and even slicing a couple of onions will start to blunt a knife [ref. some book on knives]

Incidentally the 10.25″ pastry knife makes by far the best bread knife I have ever used and the normal 8″ bread knife is rarely used. My cheapest current knife in use is a ceramic from Aldi’s at around a fiver for cutting lettuce [reduces the edge browning].

Basically my theory is if you are using it frequently spend a lot of time and even money getting the most suitable item that you are comfortable with.

I have lied I bought my Dualit in 1993 so it is only eighteen years old. Apologies.

I am rather disgusted to note in the current toaster test that longevity is given as three years for toasters. Perhaps the article would have benefitted by being more rigorous in mentioning this:
“ProHeat elements will fit Dualit toasters made in the last 50 years* and are easily replaced if one does fail”

This does not apply to the new Lite range.

agalover says:
14 September 2012

I’m not sure if this has a ‘designer’ tag or not as it has been around largely unchanged since the 1920s. My most indulgent kitchen gadget was an Aga (gas fired). Expensive – yes but worth every penny. The kitchen is always warm. It is a delight to cook with. My gas bill has gone down as the central heating is on much less. I don’t need an electric toaster, kettle, fryer, tumble dryer or extractor hood. It is programmable and even has a ‘holiday’ mode which will fire it up for our return. Food seems to taste better cooked in it, but I guess that can’t be proved easily. And it should last a lifetime.