Review: Kenwood Cooking Chef XL

The big one

Kitchen machine on digital steroids.

Published 2023-09-26 - 8:00 am
Kenwood Cooking Chef XL
Pernille Redder

This machine differs from average thermoblenders in almost every way. The Cooking Chef XL looks like a food processor on steroids, which is exactly what it is. The bowl is huge, almost twice the size of most thermoblenders, and it can heat ingredients up to a searing 180 degrees with induction heat. Among other things, this means that the Cooking Chef XL also has a built-in popcorn programme, which we have of course tested. It works!

And we haven’t even started talking about the accessories yet. There’s an incredible amount in the box. Six graters, a dough hook, a whisk, a so-called K-spatula (used for mixing cake batter) and a few more.

But the biggest difference is that the Cooking Chef XL is not an ‘all in one bowl’ machine, but rather a ‘bowl+blender jar+food processor’ machine. In other words, it is a further development of Kenwood’s legendary kitchen machines, which have become so legendary because in many families they are passed down from one generation to the next.

The British company has been making kitchen appliances since shortly after World War 2. World War II. And Kenwood would still be a British national treasure if Italian De’Longhi hadn’t bought the company in 2001.

But back to the machine, which is so big and has so many features that it requires an entire kitchen cupboard. But if that cupboard is already filled with a mixer, a food processor and a blender, you can safely clear them out and make room for the Cooking Chef XL. You can feel that this is the real deal. It’s big, heavy, fierce and full of muscle.

Pouring ingredients into the bowl is easy when the entire ‘top floor’ of the machine is tilted backwards. (Photo: Kenwood)

Recipes and app control

The Cooking Chef XL isn’t all muscle and strength, though. It also has a certain elegance about it with its app that pairs with the machine so they can talk to each other, and with your mobile phone you can even prepare the various programmes via ‘remote access’, so all you have to do is press the machine’s button once. There’s nothing post-war about that.

Here’s how it works: You find a recipe on the app and tell it that you want to start making it. It will guide you step-by-step through the recipe, and every time you need to start the machine, you just press the button.

Kenwood’s kitchen appliances come in both analogue and digital versions, and this is their top-of-the-line model. However, a little into the test, we have a clear sense that Kenwood is not yet fully at home in the digital age, and that they are first and foremost in control of building powerful kitchen appliances.

We were repeatedly confused by the operation of the small touchscreen – it’s probably just a matter of getting used to it, but it requires more concentration and focus than usual.

The screen also offers a list of quick recipes, but it seems a bit random which ones are included. We’re looking for a programme to make vegetable soup, but the closest we get is ‘soup with big lumps‘.

Tell me Kenwwod, have you been using Google Translate? It turns out that ‘soup with big lumps’ refers to the Italian soup minestrone, and my advice would be to just use that name in your next update. Then most of us will know what you mean.

With 180 degrees Celsius of induction heat, it’s as easy as pie to bring ingredients to a boil (Photo: Pernille Redder)

Powerful

This machine really has some serious power, and once we find the right soup programme, the vegetables get a good stir-fry in the bowl, which is heated via induction. The machine suggests that we install the ‘stirring tool’, which regularly moves the ingredients around so that nothing burns. And nothing really does, even though there’s plenty of heat on. A litre of water is poured in and it seems like it only takes a moment before everything is bubbling merrily.

But when the vegetables are tender and we’re about to blend the soup, things get a little more tricky. Because Kenwood doesn’t recommend using the Cooking Chef XL for blended soups, and it quickly becomes clear why.

Regular thermal blenders blend directly in the bowl, while the Cooking Chef XL has a separate blending glass that must be placed on top of the machine. The blender jar is designed for hot temperatures, so of course we can’t resist testing the blender with our soup. First, we pour the scalding hot soup from the bowl into the blender jar, and then we place the heavy blender jar so high up that we have to raise our arms to shoulder height because the machine is placed on a kitchen table. It’s a risky operation, to be honest.

But the blender blends the soup beautifully and it’s easy enough to flavour it, as the lid can be easily clamped on and off. However, if you’re not very tall, you’ll need to stand on a stool or place the machine on a lower table to use the blender.

Pizza dough

There is a sibling to the Cooking Chef XL called the Patissier Chef XL, which is priced slightly lower. It has almost the same features as the Cooking Chef XL, but it can’t cook food. It can, however, heat ingredients in the bowl, melt butter and the kind of tasks you would typically set it to in the baking world. In other words: The Patissier Chef XL could also handle pizza dough, so if that’s the function you’re most interested in, it’s worth considering.

We search the recipes on the app and find no less than four hits for ‘pizza’. These include pizza balls, a pizza with a crispy crust, baked without yeast and a classic pizza that Kenwood calls a ‘rainbow pizza’. Kenwood even allows users to rate them. The rainbow pizza has been rated 4.2 out of 5 by users. Perhaps it helps that the recipe is super educational with small drawings of all the ingredients. The nine-year-old will be able to make pizza with this recipe.

We start baking according to the step-by-step instructions, but are surprised that several of the ingredients have to be measured with teaspoons and tablespoons when the machine has a very precise built-in scale. Wouldn’t it have been obvious to indicate how many grams of oil 3 tablespoons is, instead of standing there fiddling with a measuring spoon?

But the dough comes together, and Kenwood’s 70 years of experience in kneading dough does not go unrecognised. Kneading takes eight minutes, but by then the dough is smooth, fine and warm. And the pizzas become exactly as they should be.

Conclusion

Kenwood’s machine stands on the shoulders of seven decades of kitchen appliances, and it shows. It’s solid, strong as an ox and oozes quality. And it’s really nice to have a huge bowl where you can cook for the whole family or a group of guests.

However, the fact that the menu and the integration with the app doesn’t seem well thought out is a drawback. In addition, we find it impractical to have a blender that is placed at the same height as your head when the machine is on the kitchen counter.

Karakter
Kenwood Cooking Chef XL
Premium

The bowl is a whopping 6.7 litres, twice the size of most machines. Well-functioning app with a nice selection of recipes that you can even use to control the machine. A rather complicated machine that takes time to familiarise yourself with. Moving food around between the food processor, blender and bowl is a hassle and also adds more dish washing.

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