Cuisinart processes complaints into a top machine

(Williams-Sonoma, Inc.)
By Diana Burrell
Globe Correspondent / December 23, 2009

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The Cuisinart Elite Die-cast Food Processor isn’t the most compact kitchen appliance, but its versatility eliminates other appliances that may be cluttering your counters. This powerful new model comes with the largest workbowl on the market - 16 cups - into which separate 13-cup and 4 1/2-cup workbowls nest. Use the large bowl to shred vegetables for a slaw, then the small bowl to whip up a dressing, and eliminate washing bowls between tasks.

Cuisinart, which launched the food processor revolution in 1973 with a machine that could chop, shred, and knead, has been listening to customers’ complaints all these years. Owners of older Cuisinart processors often complain about liquids that seep or shoot out between the lid assembly and the workbowl. The Cuisinart Elite seems to have solved this problem with a seal-tight rubber gasket around the edge of the lid. A test with hot broccoli soup showed no leakage, but the gasket had to be scrubbed out with a soft brush to remove food that the dishwasher couldn’t get near.

An adjustable slicing disk lets you slice potatoes and beets paper thin, or with a twist of the rotating hub, gives you thick-cut peppers or cucumbers. The reversible shredding blade gives you fine strips on one side, thicker on the other. We shredded everything from cabbage to tomatoes to hard sweet potatoes, and all of them came out even. The disks, along with the two chopping blades, a dough blade, and the rotating hub, store in a plastic accessory box.

We put the processor and its 16-cup bowl to the ultimate test by seeing how it would handle three pounds of heavy whole-grain bread dough. The 1,000-watt motor powered through the job uncomplainingly. Even more impressive, the processor didn’t skitter across the counter or rock back and forth in place as less powerful machines are wont to do. It made such quick work of this heavy-duty kneading, it made us wonder if we might retire our trusty KitchenAid.

Now for the bad news: The Elite is $299 and like the iPhone, there are no bargains. Only Williams-Sonoma carries this super model. But you’ll find small, clever features that will make you smile. There’s a retractable power cord and a blade-locking mechanism that lets you pour ingredients out of the bowl while holding the blade in place. For the hefty price tag, you’ll free up some counter space. If you’re one of the cooks who complain endlessly about the old machine’s poor design, take your problem to Santa.

Exclusive to Williams-Sonoma stores in Copley Place, Chestnut Hill, Peabody, Burlington, and Natick or