Vintage. Thrifted. These are buzzwords on fashion and design blogs, and until recently, I wasn’t really feeling it. Vintage dresses, jewelry or furniture—they just didn’t feel like me. Two Saturdays ago, though, Sam and I found ourselves in a neighborhood estate sale, and that’s where I discovered a niche in the vintage scene I connect with: kitchen equipment.
One of the treasures we snatched up was an early model Cuisinart Food Processor.The first thing that grabbed our attention about the Cuisinart was the seven blades that came with it. (Did you catch that? Seven blades!) Nowadays the standard Cuisinart comes with three blades, though you can purchase additional blades for $40 apiece. With blades this costly, you might be wondering how much we paid. A mere $20.
I know what you’re thinking—did it work? Yep, it sure did. Figuring out how to turn the food processor on, though, proved a challenge: there was no on-off button. A quick Google search revealed that the earliest Cuisinarts are turned on by locking the lid into place. I plugged in the Cuisinart and slowly clicked the lid into place, all the while suppressing images of Cuisinart accidents due to user error. Whirr! The food processor worked. And there had been no accident. Clicking the lid into place might not be the safest on-off method, but the makers would address this in later models.
The Google search also shed some light on this particular model: it is definitely one of the earliest models (if not the first model) and was made in France by Robot-Coupe, a renowned kitchen appliance maker. Cuisinart eventually broke ties with Robot-Coupe and moved production to Asia. The quality of the French-made product is evident: after 30 years of use, it can still whip up a mean batch of roasted tomato salsa.
As the gentleman holding the sale handed us his Cuisinart, he paused and said, “Now, I want to tell you a story about this Cuisinart.” Here’s how it goes: he grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, and his mother used to watch this cooking show on Public Television with this chef named Julia Child. Toward the end of the show, Julia Child started using this new machine called a food processor. They didn’t carry food processors in Cleveland yet (and there was no Amazon.com back then), so the gentleman’s mother special-ordered two—one for herself and one for her son. And this is the Cuisinart that found itself into our hands, a tool well-loved and its purchase inspired by Julia Child. As the gentleman gave us his heirloom, I felt like we were on Antique Roadshow and had just been told our treasure was worth $1 million. But this wasn’t something we’d be selling; it was something we’d use in our kitchen, remembering its history. Not bad for a first vintage purchase.