It slices! It dices! It....processes food. OK, so maybe an all-in-one food processor won't make tech geeks foam at the mouth like the latest iGadget. And unlike its outdoor cousin, the wood chipper, it can't effectively eviscerate a bad guy like Steve Buscemi's character in Fargo. Nevertheless, this home appliance is a handy piece of machinery that makes life in a kitchen quite a bit easier by taking on many repetitive, time-consuming tasks that a cook otherwise has to do by hand (or may simply avoid) without hogging up precious counter space.
The electric charged food processor has come a long way from the original model that Frenchman Pierre Verdun invented in 1963 -- the traveling culinary salesman called his product "Le Magimix" -- not to mention the variation of the appliance that Cuisinart introduced to North America 10 years later. Today, many "all-in-one" food processors not only cut, slice and chop any manner of food item, but also whisk, whip and puree in addition to serving as a blender and dough machine. The appliance's wide range of functions makes the all-in-one processor what New York Times food writer Mark Bittman calls "a virtuoso one-man band" [sources: Time, Bittman].
For every Jeff Mangum, however, there is a Joe Satriani. For every Frederic Chopin, a John Tesh. This is to say that not all virtuosos are created equal. While all-in-one food processors share a number of common functions that make prep work and other cooking tasks more efficient, they vary in price, size and utility. Read on to find out how these motorized appliances perform their craft and how to decide which one is the best fit for your kitchen.