Product Type: Kenwood mixers
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Why the Chef Is Still the Best
Member Name: Nar2
Date: 08/04/07, updated on 23/04/07 (7957 review reads)
Advantages: It does what it says on the label; efficient, so many attachments, very user friendly
Disadvantages: Some quality issues on older models, noisy motor, Kenwood Direct prices silly for attachments,
Forget Kitchenaid mixers for a start? Why? Because there aren't many aftermarket attachments available for use (there are only 10 similar attachments to Kenwood's 24 and they are not vastly available to buy here in the UK) and although its great for mixing, kneading and whisking, Kitchenaid's own machine is limited in power and thanks to its metal construction a lot heavier and only has a 4 litre mixing bowl. Prices for Kitchenaid don’t come cheap either, especially in the U.K where the latest model comes in at £349.
The Chef however is widely available, relatively cheap to buy, maintain and has a longer list of reasons to consider buying one for versatile recipe tasks and general food prep.
**This is a long review and appeared elsewhere such as Ciao **
** Quick Skip Product Review Spec (Brand new) **
• Prices between £150 and £350.
• 3 attachments; dough hook, whisk, all purpose mixing tool.
• Acrylic (or glass with higher priced models) liquidiser WITH ice crushing blades.
• 700 watt motor (some have 800 to 1000 watts) (older models have 400 to 600 watts)
• 7 speeds plus pulse control (they all have the same variable electronic control)
• 1 Kenwood plastic spatula (the wonder scooper now available to buy at Lakeland)
• Extended guarantee cover option.
• The all important attachment mail order catalogue brochure!
• Stainless steel bowl (older models have Kenlyte plastic bowls)
• Top cover with flip up access (older models don’t have this feature)
• Kenwood Mixer cook book
• Plastic metal mix build on the KM310 model- its more squarish but it is also lighter to carry, around 3kg. Our old A900 model was 8kg!!
** Sizes **
There have been two sized versions of Kenwood’s Chef you can buy since the 1980’s where if you need larger mixing tasks (say if you own a B&B) you could buy the Chef Major model which has a larger mixing bowl and extra height. It is now known simply as the Major model and in commercial kitchens you can get a commercial Major which has a touch sensitive control, ideal for wet hands as it is wet protected. For anyone else though, such as my mum who has regretted swapping her old Chef there is the standard Chef model.
Now the size of the Kenwood Chef has always been open to question. Whilst some consumers say “oh I can’t fit it in my kitchen, it is far too bulky,” as a general excuse, I find it ironic that an average bread maker (I’ll pick the best one which comes to mind, Panasonic’s SD model range for example) comes in at H35.5 x W34 x D23cm (taken from our manual) against the Chef’s measurements at a height of 30.5 x the width of 40.5 x diameter of 26.5cm. The Kenwood only has a little more in the width sections compared to a large bread maker if the basic attachments are taken into consideration as well as the liquidiser which fits on the top. Take the arm of the Chef into consideration when it swings up high and the same height is also needed for the lid of the bread maker if it is opened on a hinge upwards. We know because we have both appliances!
If you are an experienced baker then you will fit what you want in your kitchen regardless of size considerations but side by side a bread maker is about the same size as the Chef and to my mind that suits what is known as a large table top mixer. We used to put ours on a trolley and keep it there out of the way until we needed it. But consumers so easily forget that the Kenwood Chef isn’t a compact machine and if you are looking for a small table mixer, Kenwood offer other models such as the Cuisine range or the newer and more recent Patisserie model.
The capacity of the bowl on the Chef is 4.8 litres which is pretty big whilst the Major model is 6.7 litres. This should tell you exactly how big this model is.
** Our Chef Price **
Our KM310 on cost was priced at £149-00 and was purchased from Comet. The price was actually the clincher regardless of whatever attachment came with what although my mum did point out that at the time of buying she did not want the D shaped bowl which Kenwood had produced in lieu of the normal round bowl standard with many machines. As a buyer even I was confused as to what Kenwood Chef to get but at the time of purchase, the KM310 had a metal body with plastic inserts, was reasonably lightweight to carry and sported a free Acrylic liquidiser which could crush ice and the all important metal stainless steel bowl with a removable acrylic lid. I did consider Kitchenaid, but walked away when I saw the price on one of their most basic food mixers.
It is the difference of the bowl that makes all the difference to an experienced chef regardless of whether a Chef has 50 or 500 watts less in power. Remembering that my mother was only used to 450 to 500 watts on her old A901 model Chef, 700 watts is luxury compared to the original and for pastry making a cold stainless steel mixing bowl does away with the fuss of cooling the old style plastic Kenlyte bowl in the fridge for mixing pastry.
Power however is not everything; since both the top flagship model and the KM310 share the same gearbox, the only reason the KM001 has a 1000 watt motor is to cope with the secondary/twin high speed attachments on the top of the Chef body on the right hand side.
Original Chef models had a slow speed motor to the left hand side and a high speed motor to the right hand side. Above the main mixing motor and to the side behind the main name face plate; there is an additional slow motor outlet for another attachment such as the Coffee grinder, pasta maker and sausage maker attachment.
Regardless of what model you do have, people who have a Chef won’t always have the highest model sporting the highest power; put simply with a Chef you don’t need the highest power to have the best of cakes and preparations. It is how you use the Chef that determines the excellence of food prep.
** Using It **
Every Kenwood advert seems to carry the promise of a "Planetary" mixing action and this briefly means that nothing in the bowl will get missed when the whisk is activated. It does this by the way the whisk moves in one way whilst the motor moves the other – a bit like the Contracting action on a Dyson washing machine. It mixes in a circular and perfect "planetary" action hence the name. Tie this in with the design of the bowl - perfectly round - and you have the perfect set up for precise and balanced mixing loads. Both my mum and I adore it though - we can simply walk away instead of standing near the sink with our tiny little Kenwood hand mixer in one hand, and the wish that longer mixed foods would just fold in and be done and without worry that mixtures aren’t properly mixed because the Chef always mixes perfectly every time.
** Fixing & Fitting Tools On **
Fixing all the mix attachment tools to the main mix head is really simple, push the button located next to the speed dial and the main head rises slowly before it locks into place. Then just push in the desired attachment, twist and lock. Simple rule of thumb - if any of the desired attachments fall off it hasn't been inserted properly and won't be locked in. And if any of the attachments look unbalanced, they can be straightened again using a spanner to adjust the position and angle so that it sits dead centre in the bowl. Once inserted, twist the knob next to the speed dial and the head unlocks and can be pushed back down until a click can be heard when the machine is now ready to go! My mum remembers that the lock mechanism on her A901 never had the secondary lock fitted and would often swing down by the slightest touch at the top of the body.
Of the 3 attachments, dough hook, K-beater general mixing tool and balloon whisk, it's the dough hook that will see least service since we already have a bread maker - but the dough hook can also be used to mix and knead heavy pastry and difficult to mix food ingredients. All attachments are just like my mum's original machine; metallic and silver type cast iron metal. The K beater is like a heavier version of the balloon whisk. Even though it doesn't look like it is destined to apply the same planetary action, it actually does; not an ounce of mixture is missed when using this tool or the other two infact!
The stainless steel bowl (aswell as being perfect for mixing pastry) is made of brushed stainless steel as opposed to shiny chrome; this means finger marks are hidden easily and strong ingredients won't have a chance to dull the colour of the metal.
And just like any bowl for the Chef, it locks into place by twisting clockwise to lock into place on its base. Turn the other way to unlock.
** Looks and Build **
It is important to point out that the KM310 model is an all painted white on metal body with some plastic parts. Other models in Kenwood's range consist of plastic parts or metal only as opposed to a mix.
Therefore one of the most appealing new designs is an all clear acrylic cover which sits underneath the mixer head. Tools can be taken on and off even when this cover is on. It seals the mixing bowl underneath and allows food to be dropped in the sides whilst the mixer is activated. In effect what Kenwood have done is use the same principle from their food processors on this mixer. On the Chef the cover opens with a little flap door which can be picked upwards whilst ingredients are being dropped in. The cover though is fragile and it isn’t as thickly made or with the same acrylic as the liquidiser jug is made out of. Whilst it can be used to keep the bowl clean as the manual suggests, when not in use the cover is prone to damage because of its thin plastic quality so be warned here!
The front fascia of the machine is smooth and curved angled now compared to older machines. Once again there is a top lock which can be pulled outward for this slow speed outlet door to pop open where the main name face plate sits.
** Speeds **
In total there are 7 speeds available on the Chef (some older machines have 8 without the pulse function) and one optional manual activated pulse control which must be activated by turning clockwise. The other variable speeds for example must be turned anti clockwise to select. In truth of course, although there are variations of speed as marked clearly on the plastic chrome dial, it is possible to adjust infinitely the amount of speed obtainable; crucial for any chef let alone beginners who are learning to bake and cook. This means that we can get speeds variable between 1 and 2, not just selecting 1 or 2 singularly on the dial. Kenwood's knack of fitting variable speed controls have been legendary - they did this on their first series of Gourmet food processors and it was a much needed device for infinite control from the owner.
** Motor Noise **
Noise of the Chef's motor is better than our old A901 model which had a lower overall wattage (and the motor on our old Chef had only seen two services since it had been bought new). At high speed, the noise of the motor is obtrusive, but at all speed levels the machine remains sturdy, stuck to the low flat surface permanently and doesn't look or feel as if it will run away with itself.
I'd say from speeds 1 to 5 for example the Chef doesn't sound that noisy, but raise the speed after 5 and it starts to get quite loud. This is something that we haven't missed from not owning a Chef but it's one of those very small downsides to an otherwise well thought out machine whose basic design has not been tampered with.
I have also tried and witnessed the commercial version of the flagship KM001 and sadly it doesn’t have a quieter motor; again the motor is there for the two high speed motors which sit at the top and compensate for this additional motor output.
** Weight **
The weight of the KM310 model is unbelievably light, much lighter infact than our old Kenwood Chef and shows that years later times have moved on with the consumer's desire to shift something so huge and bulky with relative ease. I'd say weight wise it feels around 3kg which is the same weight as one of my lightweight cylinder vacuum cleaners! Neither my parents nor I can believe how light this model is compared to our original. Compare this to Kitchenaid in general and you have a machine here which has more capabilities, a bigger motor but a less overall weight factor! The weight then on older machines is a major downside but back in the years when a kitchen appliance was made to sit on a worktop permanently and thanks to components the question of a lighter made model wasn’t available then.
** The Acrylic Liquidiser **
Since we already have a food processor by the same company which has a liquidiser I am guessing that in its use, the Chef's liquidiser will only be used for larger capacities of mixes and smoothies with its ice crushing blades. We are very happy already with Kenwood's liquidiser on our Gourmet but whereas its capacity is limited at 1 litre, the Chef's is slightly bigger at 1.2 litres. The width of the Chef jug is actually larger and as a result putting in liquids or food doesn’t create as much of a mess. The only upside of having Acrylic is that it is a lot lighter to fix and carry than the glass version which appears on higher priced models.
To use, it's just like before with our old Chef. Here you take off the white lid which hides the high speed outlet motor and fit the liquidiser on. Simply push on and twist to lock into place. Like all liquidisers made by Kenwood there has always been a twist and lock top lid with a semi circle inner top hat chute where food can be dropped in whilst the mixer motor is on turning the blades. I always find it best to remove the main attachment on the mixer when using the liquidiser for extra safety as the main head revolves around even when the liquidiser is attached.
Using both the mixer and the liquidiser at the same time however is excellent. Both motors work independently from each other with no decrease in power.
This liquidiser jug is slightly different than our Kenwood Gourmet processor jug for cleaning as there are at least 4 parts of the jug which must be dismantled after use including a sealing ring at the top from the lid to the blade section itself which can be washed in soapy hot water.
** Cleaning the Chef **
All attachments are dishwasher safe including the stainless steel bowl. What we have realised at the bottom of this Chef is a plastic circular acrylic disc which effectively allows the bottom of the main mixing bowl to rest against whilst in use. Our old Chef never had that! Infact I recall it was a metal disc which my mum couldn't shift for love nor money because of years of congealed pastry and flour! Here however the disc is bendy plastic and you can slip your fingers underneath to loosen it and take it out to clean.
In general though, the Chef will get dirty due to its white colour and in this instance a damp cloth is sufficient to remove food stains and general marks. I however use Elbow Grease (a non toxic degreaser spray made by 151) to get rid of anything which has applied itself to the paintwork on the machine.
** The Truth Behind the differences of newer models **
For a time, Kenwood had earned a great reputation for longevity, efficiency and performance but in the late 1980s’ their Excel range brought in stepped ranges of budget to expensive prices and Kenwood uprated motors and attachments for each machine in their range accordingly. However whilst doing this Kenwood also produced cheaper motors which broke and a general reputation in the trade realised that the entire plastic clad bodied Kenwood Chef’s were easier and prone to breaking down more often. In this instance until the late 1990’s Kenwood Chef models have entirely been made up of metal with plastic parts such as lids to the smaller motors.
If for example you see an older Kenwood Chef on eBay, try and source the model which was either made in white and black, white and blue or orange and black with the metal face plate, completely squarish and written in large silver lettering. This model is also known as the A900 or A901. The reasons for this is that amongst many cooks I know, this is the model that Kenwood sold during half of the 1970’s to the1980’s and as such was one of the best models they produced which has a longer lasting build and motor quality. My mum had hers for almost 12 years until she swapped it with a friend for a lesser quality and smaller table top Kenwood Gourmet food processor (the one with the free ice cream making trays and tool attachment!); the only downside to the A900 series is that with the metal build also comes heavy weight and with its known bulk Kenwood Chef models in all versions are never small, but then again they have always been large table top food mixers; if consumers wanted smaller they could buy Kenwood’s long standing Cheffette model which was a quarter of the size and mimicked the Chef with its planetary mixing action (the bowl actually moved the other way) and optional attachments (other than a liquidiser and grinder option).
If you do get a model from eBay which has been pre-owned, make sure the motor & gearbox is at least serviced and it has been cleaned up. The last thing you want is a machine which has been congealed with old pastry or flour kicking out the vent from the motor.
** Nar's Cost Optional Accessories **
So far there has been only one accessory which I have had to buy because it does not come with the model. A Kenwood Chef branded PVC Chef cover; White in colour and washable, this cover slips over the model nicely including the stainless steel bowl and everything can be hidden away. The price from Kenwood direct was £10-99 before £2-99 P&P rates and I bought one from EBay at £9-99 including postage and packaging. Every little helps!
EBay prices are somewhat cheaper on other attachments but most have been pre-used or appear as old stock; they are however a lot cheaper than the prices Kenwood charge before postage and packaging rates.
Other attachments consist of so many things you can buy for your Chef; it makes the other gadgets in our household look redundant! If you are on a budget for example and you already have a Kenwood Chef which has been passed down to you; still works and still has the motors on top intact, it makes sense to shop around for Kenwood attachments that won't cost the earth.
For example, presently a stainless steel bowl (ours) could set you back to order direct from Kenwood's mail order catalogue at a cost of £31.49! Again on EBay however I found one seller who was selling the same bowl, brand new at £5-00 with a £2-00 postage and packaging charge. That's a heck of a saving! Other prices from Kenwood direct for several attachments range from the famous round Kenlyte bowl brand new at £15-49 whereas it's a fraction of the price on EBay. It does pay to shop at EBay sometimes even if brand new; this model has been found to be slightly higher priced.
Other attachments such as the Mincer and Grinder for coffee beans is also available on EBay but nothing lasts forever - You do have to shop around for the attachments because largely Kenwood really rip the customer off in terms of pricing for certain attachments you can buy elsewhere. I just wouldn't bother with Kenwood unless it's something you really need such as Kenwood's mini food processor attachment or continuous Centrifugal Juicer - if we didn't have Jack La Lanne's juicer - we would have bought the attachment for our Kenwood Chef by now.
As such there are literally 24 different attachments available for the Chef and that is including replacement bowls and tools such as the balloon whisk, K beater and dough hook. These attachments range from, for example a splash guard for both the D shaped bowl and round Kenlyte bowl; Ice cream maker; Colander & Sieve; Potato peeler; Grain Mill; Pasta Maker; Small & large mincer; Citrus Press; Continuous Juicer; Slicer & Shredder; Multi Mill; Acrylic 1 litre or 1.2 litre liquidiser jugs; 1.2 or 1.5 litre glass liquidiser option. Not everything is listed though in the thin colour booklet that carries the Kenwood Accessories mail order form. For example on EBay I' m aware of older attachments which Kenwood do not make anymore such as a can opener attachment and a coffee mill option. Of course you're not pushed to buy every attachment going but you can even buy Kenwood's famous spatula, apron and a tea towel if you are really close to the brand...
** Downsides **
Admittedly the Chef does large loads of food as opposed to small, although in use the Chef shouldn't be discounted if you don't have any other mixing machine. It doesn't however rule our recently acquired Kenwood hand mixer as this is still a great little machine at the fraction of the size to do on the spot mixing rather than transferring the food to the mixer for mixing actions. When the little hand mixer struggles with thicker and tougher food however this is when the Chef slices through consistencies and keeps the consistency of mixtures precise and even in their preparations. And of course it rules out standing around in the kitchen stuck at doing one task when the Chef can do many.
It's a great pity that Kenwood have ceased production of their original cook book for the Kenwood Chef; a hard backed book which came with our original Chef. As such the book that comes with this model isn't half the book that the original was. It's a soft back book for starters and carries many different recipes. However, the original book had a lot more recipes including drinks which this book seems to carry on where it left off from. Again on EBay I would buy the Chef book if I saw it, but at the moment I'm traipsing around Charity shops to get an even bigger bargain if there's one copy of this older A4 sized book on the shelf. Charity shops always have Kenwood Chef books and mixer covers which incidentally this Chef does not come with.
Remember again the Chef is a large table mixer, it is not and never will be a compact machine.
** Maximum Capacities - A Quick Guide (taken from the manual)**
• Flour Weight for short crust pastry; 680g to 1lb and 8 ounces.
• Flour Weight for stiff yeast dough; 1.36kg to 3lb.
• Fruit cake mix total weight: 2.72kg to 6lb.
• Egg whites: Maximum of a dozen eggs in one task.
The KM310 comes with an additional manual (A4 typed with diagrams and good access points) which includes a few recipes to consider and another exclusive cook book which has been written specifically for Kenwood Chef owners.
** Conclusion **
You don't need to be a super cook to own a Kenwood Chef but over a Kitchenaid mixer the Chef is a British labour saving device which has created a national institution of owners and admirers who adore cooking. It has so many attachments that ultimately you can pick and choose whichever tool you like. I'd advise buying attachments elsewhere other than Kenwood Direct. It's simply far too expensive for some of the attachments I've already listed.
The KM310 Chef has a robust metal bowl, a cover and it comes complete with a liquidiser but like many Chef models on the market, old and new it is a complete machine designed to do its job efficiently and you can upgrade your old machine with attachments or bowls if you have one already. Thanks for reading. ©Nar2 2007.
User manuals can also be downloaded free but you must have Adobe installed.
Summary: The Best large Kitchen mixer for any type of food lover.