I’ve been madly pinning things to my Thermomixmas pin board on Pinterest. So many pins, so little time!
My Thermie. I have never always keep it decorated seasonally.
The Thermomix is known for its ability to help you cook up a storm in the kitchen, but the recent launch of the newest model, the TM5, has caused a storm of a very different nature.
In a nutshell, the new model was launched by Vorwerk without any advance warning or notification- even to their consultants. Consultants were told to be available on the day for new training and were then told of the launch. Meaning people who had taken possession of their TM31 even up until the day before paid full price for what is essentially a superseded product.
Apparently, Choice and the ACCC have been inundated with complaints about how the launch was handled. From what I saw on social media- there are a lot of unhappy customers who feel they were cheated or deceived because they weren’t told that a new model was about to be released. I can understand that. If I had bought a TM31 a couple of weeks ago, I’d be a bit annoyed that I only had the current model for two weeks! There has been a facebook group started for unhappy customers (with over 2800 members at the time of writing this) and an online petition demanding that the company allow recent purchasers to upgrade to the new model.
So, what’s the difference?
Well, not a great deal, from what I can tell. You can still use the TM5 exactly as you would the TM31 if you wish to. It does have a few more bells and whistles and some size differences. The Varoma (steamer) is larger and so is the jug. It now has this cool LCD touch screen thingy instead of buttons and a dial. The seals and way it opens are a bit different, now self-locking, as is the butterfly (whipping) attachment. The biggest difference in how you use it comes from the recipe chip and guided cooking function. Basically it has a port to plug in a “recipe chip” (you get one free when you buy it and I’m assuming others will become available) which displays the recipes on the screen and enables the guided cooking function, which basically tells you what to add, step by step, and automatically weighs and cooks, chops etc you ingredients as you go, which is pretty cool, but by no means essential. I’ve read several reviews and comparisons and thus far and they all acknowledge the shiny new bits. They also all seem to agree- the end result is no different.
Did Vorwerk break any laws?
It doesn’t appear so, though many customers seem to disagree. The company says no, they didn’t. Their response:
The Australian launch of the Thermomix Model 5 was conducted in line with global brand compliance in accordance with our distribution arrangements. We are deeply sorry that this has resulted in some customers feeling disappointed.
This hasn’t halted online discussion involving ACCC and Fair Trading complaints and talk of no win-no fee lawyers.
What are Vorwerk doing about all this?
They have made a peace offering, saying customers who ordered a TM31 on or after July 1st to August 20th will be offered a free second bowl, blade and lid set. For the non-thermomixers, this is a set worth somewhere in the ballpark of $400. It means you can switch between bowls to cook larger dishes or more than one dish without having to wash the bowl in between cooking sessions. This sounded like a pretty good offer to me, as a second bowl is something I’d love, but discussion in the unhappy customers group shows the offer is being treated with deep suspicion by a large proportion of their members. The consensus is divided. Some plan to refuse the offer because they feel it is simply not good enough; they feel they should be offered the chance to upgrade to the newer model and that the offer is somewhat of an insult. Others are under the impression that accepting the offer means they have accepted compensation from the company, which they suggest would impact any legal proceedings they might commence against the company.
Personally, I’ve had my thermie too long to qualify for the offer and too long to really feel that I have been cheated or deceived by the new launch. From what I understand, the launch of the TM31, which superseded the TM21, was handled in the same way- no forewarning. According to Thermomix, this is part of their company culture. The difference is, this was several years ago, when social media wasn’t a prevalent thing yet and the Thermomix wasn’t the popular appliance in Australia that it is now. I can understand recent purchasers feeling a bit miffed. I can understand feeling like the company has behaved poorly towards the customers. Many people questioned why they didn’t have a run-out sale on the older model. I imagine this is because of their business model- their consultants get paid a certain percentage per sale, so they potentially stood to lose income if their percentage was coming off a smaller sales figure. They also would have faced fewer sales in the lead up to the launch if people opted to hold out for the new model. On the flip side, I can understand that customers believe they should be entitled to that choice. It’s a tough one, because if there had been a run out sale, the people who purchased full price the week or month before that sale would feel disadvantaged. One idea would have been to announce the new model a few of weeks before the launch and then selling both models for a limited period, with a discount on the TM31 and offering an upgrade option to those who had ordered, but not yet received their thermomixes. But even then- there would be those who wouldn’t be happy if they’d purchased before the announcement. I’m not sure how thermomix could have avoided upsetting anyone at all but it would (in my not at all qualified opinion) have made better business sense if they had proactively tried to minimise the number of potentially unhappy customers, rather than retroactively trying to appease a mass of angry customers, some of whom are now actively talking others out of buying the appliance.
This snapshot alone shows a loss of over $20,000 in sales.
I do think perspective is important here though. Everyone who has purchased or ordered a thermomix based on their demonstration of or research into the TM31 did so because they really liked what they saw. The features of the TM31 are still there- it’s still a great machine and still does exactly what it’s supposed to do- everyone who owns a TM31 got exactly what they ordered. The consultants they ordered from didn’t know the new model was being launched. They didn’t set out to deceive anyone and unfortunately, it would seem the parent company made a decision that has seen a lot of backlash against them.
One spin off from this drama is the shift in the Thermomix community online (yes, we have a community based around a kitchen appliance!). There is currently a very real divide among those who feel cheated or upset by the new model launch and those who don’t think it’s a big deal. The term “first world problem” is getting thrown around. A lot. I hate that term. Yes, it is a first world problem. We are in a first world country. People are allowed to feel upset by this situation. It’s just such a shame to see an online community that is not only divided but turning on itself. The complaints I’ve been reading range from the dissatisfied to the conspiratorial and the responses to them from tolerant and understanding to downright nasty. In my experience, the online community has always been a pretty positive place, with lots of discussion around recipes, health and nutrition and it would be a shame to lose that.
I think Jo Whitton, from Quirky Cooking, summed it up within her Quirky Cooking chat group:
Last week I read this informative blog post detailing a rapidly spreading virus that has been around, in one form or another, for some time now. It was initially fairly benign, first coming into being some 30 or 40 years ago as a machine to make baby food. However, the last few years have seen it evolve and perhaps mutate into the World’s Most Advanced Kitchen Machine and what has followed can only be described as some kind of mass outbreak. I know, because it turns out that I, too, have been infected with the Thermofever virus.
I was a willing, if unwitting, participant in my own infection. I admit- I opted to hold a Thermomix party of my own. I had been hearing about the Thermomix for some time so when a friend decided to become a consultant, I jumped at the chance to have a party. A meal I didn’t have to cook, right? An opportunity to really see what all the fuss was about. Little did I know that the infection had already begun…
I invited some friends around. Our host made us hommus, pizza bianco, potato and leek soup, chicken veloute and steamed vegetables, apple and pear sorbet and a custard with a hint of lemon. With each delicious mouthful, the virus grew stronger. Before I knew it, I had signed the papers and ordered my own thermie.
When she arrived, I named her Thermione Grainger- my very own kitchen magic machine! I’ve already written about what I use her for here. I wasn’t even aware she was a virus until I read about the symptoms. I don’t even have all of them. I mean, I did spend a tidy sum of money to have a Thermomix. I do talk about it- a lot. I’ve been to more than one demonstration. I do recklessly and compulsively swap recipes with strangers in what could be termed a promiscuous fashion. Oh hang on… that’s all of them!
However, I must say, I think the author of the article detailing this epidemic is …well… perhaps being slightly alarmist. I mean, I’m just a regular person who likes to cook and enjoy good food. I don’t think this so called virus is that insidious- I mean, aside from a few minor, hardly noticeable, symptoms, it’s not like I’m actively trying to infect you too. I’m just a person living with an untreatable condition that results in tasty, tasty food; impressive dishes I’d never normally be able to cook from scratch, things like salted caramel sauce, homemade jam, hollandaise sauce, homemade fruit loaf, fresh raspberry cordial….
But… You know…If you do want to buy one, I’d be thrilled to talk to you about it! I know a few consultants- I could give you a phone number? Or if you wanted to host a demo, I would be happy to come along- just to make up numbers, you know? Also, there are some awesome Thermomix recipe websites- I could send you some great links! I can show you the best recipes on the Recipe Community! There are also a few private (you know…kinda exclusive)Thermomix groups on facebook- but I could TOTALLY invite you, if you got one….
Disclaimer: I’m not associated with Thermomix in any way other than as a happy customer. This post isn’t sponsored by anyone at all and has been written primarily for my own amusement!
Linking up with Essentially Jess for #IBOT
A bit of a deviation from my usual posts- this is a product review I wrote for Parenting Central Australia about my Thermomix that I thought I may as well share here too for anyone interested. I’m not a consultant and have no intentions of becoming one- just a happy customer!
The thermomix is a German made kitchen appliance that has the ability to heat, chop, blend, beat, mill, emulsify, crush, mash, boil, melt, steam and knead.
It can be used for meal prep work, to make your own basic ingredients, desserts, soups, entire meals, doughs, drinks and I’ve even seen recipes for homemade laundry powders and body products. As a mum, I also use it to make finger paint and play doh for the kids!
So, what can you actually do with it?
Our thermomix is utilised on a daily basis and has been since we got it. My husband learned to use it as well and even the kids get involved. It’s used for dinner almost every night and often used for other meals as well.
A typical day’s use might look like this:
Breakfast- I like porridge, so might use it for that, or in a hurry I’ll make a green smoothie like THIS one.
Lunch- We are a sandwich loving family, so homemade bread or rolls are a favourite. Soup is also a winner, especially when we have visitors.
Dinner- One of our favourite thermomix dinners is this BEEF RISOTTO – a big winner with the kids. Or we might use it to do the mash and steamed veg to go with sausages or baked chicken pieces cooked the conventional way.
Outside of meals, I use mine to make:
A soft butter spread that we use in place of margarine
Other doughs (hot cross buns, fruit buns, finger buns, raisin loaf),
Spreads like nut butters
Pasta sauce (for bottling- so in place of bought jars of sauce)
Sauces and gravies
… I’m sure I’m forgetting things and I’m also aware that there is more I can do with it that I haven’t tried yet.
It also got a workout last Christmas- all my gifts were homemade, thanks to Thermione Grainger (yes, my thermy has a name!) and consisted of infused oils, relishes, jams, balsamic reductions, lemon butters, Scottish tablet fudge and salted caramel ice-cream sauces.
Of course all these things are possible without a thermal cooker; it’s just the thermomix makes things easier and often faster. Take for example a Chicken and Mushroom Risotto. Comparing two similar recipes- one thermomix and one conventional- it’s not hard to see that the time and labour involved are quite different. The thermomix recipe, including the pre-grating of your parmesan, chopping and sautéing of the onion and garlic and the first sautee of the rice and wine takes about 6 minutes all up. The bulk of the cooking then takes 16-17 minutes and this is hands-free- the machine regulates the temperature and does all the stirring for you. Once that is done, you add the cream, cheese and seasonings, stir through and let stand for 5 minutes before serving. All up, you’re looking at around half an hour from start to finish and just over half this time can be spent doing something else. With the conventional recipe, the times have been summarised for you- 10 minutes prep followed by 40 minutes cooking time. That gives an actual time difference of around 20 minutes but if you factor in the time spent stirring etc it is closer to 35-40 minutes of time saved by using the thermomix.
A side benefit of the thermomix has to be the online Recipe Community– a thermomix run website where users can submit and peruse all kinds of recipes. So although there are a number of recipes books you can buy, it’s not necessary to do so. There are also heaps of blogs, Facebook pages and websites made and maintained by dedicated by dedicated thermomix enthusiasts that also contain lots of recipes, tips and tricks to keep things interesting.
Who should have one?
If you are concerned about additives or preservatives, or have an intolerance or an allergy in the family or are following a special diet of some kind then the beauty of the thermomix for you is that you can control all ingredients and easily make foods that you can guarantee are safe or suitable for your dietary requirements. There are lots of thermomix recipes available to cater to many needs and diet choices; gluten free, dairy free, paleo, wholefood, FODMAP, Failsafe, nut free, egg free- you name it. Many people find that using the thermomix is faster than conventional cooking to make their own basics like breads, flours, non-dairy milks etc and it is also often cheaper. The other bonus there is the flavour- you can play around with recipes and experiment to find what works for you.
Even without special dietary requirements, you can still get a lot out of cooking with a thermy. We fall into this category and since we started using our thermomix, we have cut out lots of packaged and processed food. The spin off from this is that we make a lot more food from scratch and have become more adventurous with our cooking. Before owning a thermomix, I would never have attempted to make certain things from scratch. Recipes like hollandaise sauce, puff pastry, eggs sous vide, swiss meringue buttercream, yoghurt and even jams and relishes seemed to difficult or complex to bother with- it has definitely expanded my repertoire!
I’ve seen some people comment that they wouldn’t want one because they enjoy the process of cooking. That’s fine, so do I! In my case, I still use my stove and oven when I feel like it, but as a family of 6 with both parents working, it’s great to have the thermomix option. We can often whip up a quick soup or other simple meal in less time than it takes to organise a take away which is generally cheaper and usually healthier too.
So, what CAN’T it do? Are there any cons?
When it comes to breads, doughs and cakes, no, the thermomix can’t do the baking for you! However, things like bread dough are a snap in the thermomix, because it regulates the temperature to activate the yeast and kneads it much faster and more efficiently than I could by hand. You still have to prove the dough, which can be done in the machine. I tend to knock the dough down by hand (though you can do this with the machine) before hand shaping and putting in the tin for the second rise. Using the thermomix, I have bread dough ready to prove in just a few minutes as opposed to the 8-10 minutes hand kneading that I’d have to do without a thermomix.
Cake batters, biscuit doughs and the like are usually mixed and ready within a minute or two but again, you will need your oven to bake.
As for other cons, yes, there are a couple. Cooking mince is one of the few things I had to troubleshoot. The thermomix has a tendency to really mush it up so that it is super fine- think baby food. My family are decidedly not fans of this texture. However, there are different methods you can use to avoid this and once you work out a method that cooks it to your liking, you are good to go- all it takes is adjusting the stirring speed or using the butterfly attachment. Another small issue for me is that many of the all in one meals have the meat steaming above the vegies or side dish as it cooks. This is not a problem all the time or for most people, just a preference thing- I don’t personally like steamed chicken (though I don’t mind other steamed meats) so for recipes that call for it, I adjust them and cook the chicken on the stovetop instead.
So…How much do they cost?
At just over $1900 it’s a big investment for most people especially when you consider that there are other thermal cookers that can perform the same or similar functions. However there are a few good reasons we decided on the more expensive model.
Firstly, the cheaper models are often copies of the earlier model of the thermomix. The TM31 model that I have is an improved design- it has the reverse function, integrated scales and the Varoma (steamer attachment) and is powered by a reluctance motor as opposed to a brushed motor.
As far as I know, none of the cheaper versions have a reverse function, some don’t have inbuilt scales (though I believe at least one of the cheaper options comes with a set of digital scales) and none of the others has the same type of motor. The benefit of the reluctance motor is that it is considered maintenance free- it has less moving parts. The other type is a belt and gear drive motor which generally means more wear and tear and a shorter lifespan of the motor.
Another bonus to buying a genuine thermomix is your consultant. You cannot buy a thermomix new through a retail store or website- it’s all done through an actual person (a rarity these days!) Your machine is hand delivered to you and your consultant spends time showing you how to use the machine and will make something with you. In my case, my consultant came over and helped me make a batch of vegetable stock concentrate- something that has become a staple ingredient for many of the meals I make. Your consultant is also available for any after sales questions or concerns which is very handy. After doing my research and having a demonstration, I decided to go for this option because I knew it would be a well used appliance. It seemed counterproductive to purchase an outdated design with less features and a more vulnerable motor with little to no after sale support even if it meant spending more- I wanted to get a high quality machine that would last and so far I haven’t been disappointed!
To add to this, here are some of my favourite thermomix websites:
And some of my favourite Thermomix Facebook pages: