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During my six years as a professional pastry chef, I never saw a restaurant kitchen that wasn’t equipped with at least one KitchenAid stand mixer. Whether it was being used to whip heavy cream in the pastry department, roll sheets of dough at the pasta station or grind meat to use on the hot line, it was an invaluable workhorse. But is it truly the gold standard — or is its popularity simply due to brand recognition?

Bodum believes it can deliver a product that’s just as good — and better looking to boot. Its new seven-speed Bistro Electric Stand Mixer provides all of the same basic functions as a KitchenAid (beat, whisk, knead) and is roughly the same price. I recently put it through the wringer to see how it compared to the mixer I’ve owned for almost a decade.

Positive (+)
A colorful rubber-sprayed plastic body makes a strong first impression. Design-wise, it’s a good fit for a modern kitchen. But good looks aren’t reason enough to spend $250. The Bistro mixer outperforms my KitchenAid in a number of ways. First, it comes with a handy splashguard and feeding chute. This allows the cook to add ingredients — like flour for cookie dough or boiling sugar syrup for meringue — without having it splash outside the bowl and all over your kitchen.

Another significant detail is that there are suction cups built into the base. Anyone who has used a stand mixer to knead dough has probably seen his or her machine convulse its way towards the edge of the kitchen counter. In my case, dented wood floors are the battle scars of bread making. But the Bistro barely budged when working with tough bagel dough. After leaving it unattended for 10 minutes, the mixer stayed put.

And unlike the motor on my KitchenAid, which begins to heat up during tough tasks, this one stayed cool through every test. The trade-off is that it’s slightly noisier, but this isn’t a deal breaker — regardless of which brand you use, operating a stand mixer is no time for quiet reflection.

Negative (-)
While the whisk and dough hook attachments work perfectly fine, the paddle poses a problem— it doesn’t come close enough to the sides of the bowl as it mixes. This means having to stop the machine in regular intervals, then scraping the contents of the bowl with a spatula to ensure that the ingredients are well incorporated. I once neglected to do this while making a cake. Chunks of butter were visible in the batter, rendering it unusable.

It also requires a little more maintenance than the competition. The splashguard is an extra part that needs washing with each use, and a clear plastic shell on the machine’s arm shows granules of sugar and flour trapped near the motor. I have yet to figure out how to remove the piece so that it can be cleaned. Finally, Bodum does not offer supplementary accessories like a pasta roller or meat grinder. This is a drawback for the home cook who wants an all-in-one appliance.

Verdict:
In a head-to-head battle between Bodum and KitchenAid, it’s a push. The ideal mixer would include elements from both brands, so it’s hard to make a case for swapping out one with the other. But if you’re in the market for your first stand mixer, this is a fine option for the design geek-turned-baking freak. Bistro Electric Stand Mixer; $250, bodum.com

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