Help Choose: French Or Japanese Older Cuisinart Food Processor?

Joined Nov 9, 2009
Hi everyone. I wonder if some of you with long memories can answer a slightly arcane question about food processors. Specifically, which used Cuisinart food processor should I get?

Quick background:

I have the same food processor I bought 20-some years ago, a Braun. It deserves some plaudits for lasting so long, I guess, but truth be told it is not a good food processor. Light-duty, minimal selection of discs (which are merely metal inserts that snap into the plastic disk support), smallish bowl. It can't pulverize lobster shells for bisque, julienne veggies for salads, cut french fries. About all it does is make modest amounts of pesto and grate cheese - if its not very hard cheese. I should probably thank this old Braun for helping develop my knife skills, but it is Time To Go.

After some research, I've settled on a Cuisinart food processor. Why? I can't remotely justify the price of a Robot Coupe or even a Magimix, and I don't like the look of the Kitchen Aid. How's that for logic? However, I don't want a Chinese-made Cuisinart. So I am trying to decide between the old Japanese-made Cuisinarts from the 1980s (?) and the even older French-made ones from the 1970s (?). I may have my dates mixed up.

This means, I believe, choosing between a French-made "CFP" model, like the CFP-5, and a later Japan-made "DCF" model, like the DCF-7. I would appreciate advice on the pros and cons.

(See what I mean about long memories?)

Here's what I think I know and what I know I don't know. I may be wrong on the former and missing the point on the latter. I'm hoping you guys can set me straight.

CFP models:

- Made in France by Robot Coupe in the 1970s

- Some have a metal base (CFP-5 is most common), others went to plastic (CFP-9 is example)

- Some lacked on-off switches. Locking the lid turns the motor on. Seems inconvenient for pulsing?

- No pusher interlock, meaning it will operate without the pusher inserted in the feed tube. So you can zap a whole leek or carrot without first cutting it to fit in the feed tube.

- Parts hard to get. Cuisinart won't help. Must resort to eBay or a few specialty parts vendors

- However, bowls, lids, blades and discs for some Robot Coupe (RC 1, RC 2) and older Magimix models will fit. True? That's what the info at some parts sites says.

- Kind of basic. No doodads like the weird whisk thingy.

DCF models:

- Made in Japan by unknown - up until some point when production moved to China. Can I assume any DCF-7 was Japan-made?

- Have the familiar "on" and "pulse" switches

- Will not operate if the pusher is not inserted in the feed tube (pusher interlock). So everything has to be cut to 2" lengths first.

- Is the feed tube shorter or smaller-diameter than on the CFP?

- Parts quite readily available, via Cuisinart or independent sources.

- Lots of discs and doodads.

- Is the motor stronger than the CFP's? Is the quality better than the CFP's? Someone told me the Japanese Cuisinarts were the best.

What do you think? Is my understanding right? Can you help with my questions? And, most important, what would you pick? Suppose you had a choice between these, both example being in good condition?

I guess I should say what I plan to use the thing for. I'd like to use this to shred and slice potatoes and vegetables when I need a lot, to matchstick veggies and semi-frozen meat, to cut french fries, and to fine dice (small cubes, brunoise) if it can do that. To chop meat. To make pates. To pulverize lobster and crab shells. I don't own a stand mixer, so the food processor will be used for any dough tasks that it can manage. As well as emulsions, sauces, pesto, nuts, etc. I'm not a professional cook, but I do cook a lot. Hopefully it will be the last food processor I buy. Unless I run across the $30 garage sale Robot Coupe that I never do run across.
Joined Nov 9, 2009
[table][tr][td]Okay, I'll answer my own question in case it helps anyone.  I'm now the ''proud'' owner of a CFP-5A and a DLC-7, and have been using them in rotation.

The French-made CFP-5A: 
- This machine is hella powerful, noisy, even slightly scary. 
- The motor is switched on by fully closing the lid to the latched position, and switched off by turning the lid about one-eight of a rotation to the unlatched position. I found this irritating, so I drilled a hole in the case and installed a $4 ON-OFF-MOMENTARY ON switch to turn the motor on and off. This makes for easy pulsing - just press the switch, instead of repeatedly latching and unlatching the lid. I kept the safety microswitch, so the lid must be closed for the motor to operate - I like my fingers. 
- The bowl is smaller than the DLC-7. The slicing and shredding discs are a bit inconvenient to store since the stem is integral to each disc. On one disc, the stem split in half - I don't know if that was a fluke or if the plastic on these is getting old. Discs and blades show up on eBay fairly often and are cheap. Bowls and lids show up too. You can buy these parts new-old-stock from a couple of vendors, but they are expensive if purchased that way. 
- The standard lid has a narrow tube with a pusher that fully removes, so you can leave the motor running and continuously feed in food, pour in oil, etc. This tube is narrow enough that a large russet potato won't fit through - you have to cut it in half - but then again a long leek or carrot can be dropped into the tube without being trimmed to length. Yes, you could wiggle your hand in there and cut off your fingers, but it would be hard to do. There is also a ''wide-tube'' lid which has a sleeve and integral pusher that must be inserted for the motor to operate, so you have to open the lid, place food in the tube, place the sleeve and pusher on the tube, close the lid, process the food, and open to repeat. I find that batch process inconvenient and the food must be cut short enough to fit fully in the tube - but the wide tube will accommodate a fat potato - or a fat hand, hence the extra safety mechanism. 
- These machines are inexpensive on eBay - $20 or so, plus shipping. The case is all steel, they have a nice shiny nameplate and a shiny label on the bottom that says ''Robotcoupe'', I like the retro look. 
- The CFP-9's take all the same blades, discs, bowls, etc but are even cheaper. These have plastic cases and are less cool-looking.

The Japanese-made DLC-7: 
- Is more ''civilized'', quieter, seems to start up a bit more gently. I don't know that it is any less powerful but it is a bit less scary. 
- It has the familiar ON and PULSE buttons. 
- The bowl is larger, and the discs separate from the stem for easy storage. The blades and discs are similar to the CFP5A/9 parts as far as the cutting edges go, but don't quite interchange - diameter and height is just a bit different. 
- The most common lid is the wide-mouth, of design similar to the CFP-5A's optional wide-mouth lid, with the same batch operation that I find kind of fiddly. There is a narrow tube lid too (called the ''standard tube''), but you don't run across it that often. 
- Everything for these is fairly cheap on eBay, except the machines themselves which go for $50-60, plus shipping makes $80-90. (I got mine for $5 plus shipping because the seller mistakenly listed it as a CFP-9.) The case is plastic so they aren't as vintage-cool looking.

So, there's the rundown. If someone wants a vintage Cuisinart, I'd say the DLC-7 is the easier choice, as it comes with the ON and PULSE controls standard and the discs are less cumbersome to store. Personally, I'm yet not sure which one I'll keep.

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