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Recommendations for a meat slicer ?

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hello All;
I am looking to buy a good quality meat slicer primarily to thin-slice beef Roast and turkey breast like the restaurants do. It would be for home use.

I am most interested in getting something that is durable, that works well, and (very important) is easy to clean and I wouild like to try not to exceed $700 if possible.

Anyone have any recommendations for a meat slicer that you have that you are happy with and that meets the above criteria ?

Thanks. Tim
post #2 of 11
Here are two that I've been looking at for the house. First is this slicer and the second is this choice .
post #3 of 11
Thread Starter 
I have actually been looking at the Chef's choice units but even their highest end machine seems to have some problems. Perhaps it's not possible to get a "perfect" slicer unless you spend $4,000.

Here is a review on Amazon.com for the Chef's choice 667 ...

The Chef's Choice 667 slicer performs as advertised with its sturdy construction, powerful motor, large 10" belt-driven blade, and smooth quiet operation. This slicer does indeed produce deli-thin slices!

Out of the Box
The Chef's Choice 667 slicer comes out of the box with a 10" stainless-steel blade, blade sharpener, owner's manual, Allen wrench, small plastic serving tray, and temporary blade guard used for handling the sharp blade.
The plastic blade guard easily screws onto the blade using two large plastic knobs. This temporary guard covers the razor sharp edge of the blade and makes it easy to handle when it's removed from the slicer or during cleaning.
The plastic food tray is used to catch the food as it's being sliced, but it's too small and does not fit squarely under the blade.
The Allen wrench is used for removing the main blade guard during cleaning.
The blade sharpener is attached to the top of the unit and is held in place by a thumb screw. Simply loosen the screw, lift, and pivot the sharpener into place. A rear-mounted grinding wheel sharpens the blade while a front spring-loaded push-in grinding wheel removes any burrs.
The included non-serrated blade is excellent for slicing meats, vegetables, cheeses, etc., but is not well suited for breads. To slice bread you'll want to buy the optional serrated blade (~$90).
First Impressions
Operating the slicer is straightforward. Plug in the unit, load the carriage with the food to be sliced, flip the on/off switch to "on", and finally press the safety interlock switch. The interlock switch prevents the unit from starting up should the on/off switch be left on while plugging it in, a nice safety feature!
Once powered on, you must exert some pressure on the food pusher and slide the carriage forward and back while setting the thickness knob to your desired setting.
The slicer itself is very sturdy and appears to be well made. The main body is made of die-cast metal and the blade stainless steel. The carriage is smooth and rides on a single ball bearing. The motor/blade is powerful and is belt driven.
Some parts of the slicer utilize plastic screws, namely the friction adjustments for the sliding carriage and the thickness dial. There is also a small plastic piece which keeps the food pusher from scraping the carriage. This plastic piece fell out of its hole while I was operating the unit. I used SuperGlue to reattach.
The carriage is secured to the sliding arm with two bolts and small thumb nuts. These small nuts are awkward to remove and/or tighten and require the use of pliers. The bolt holes are slightly oversized and require lock washers, which I do not like. I would have preferred larger nuts (or knobs) and properly sized bolt holes to facilitate easy removal and reinstallation of the carriage tray.
The travel on the food pusher is somewhat limited and you may have to cut large roasts in half so they'll fit in the carriage. The bushings on the food pusher arm rod are made of plastic, I would have preferred brass or some other material.
Slice thickness is controlled by a large knob calibrated in millimeters. Maximum thickness is 0.6 inches. Once set, I didn't have to make any further adjustments. Friction is set by a plastic screw inside the base of the unit.
The bottom of the slicer is covered with a black plastic cover which seems a little flimsy for a "commercial quality" slicer. Four screws and four rubber feet secure the bottom cover to the unit.
The unit is moderately heavy, roughly 30 pounds, and it stays put on the counter.
First Experience
My first experience with this slicer was making thin sliced (almost shaved) roast beef sandwiches. I slow roasted a 10 pound Sirloin tip roast until it was rare and juicy. The slicer effortlessly sliced the meat to perfection. The motor showed no signs of stress and the carriage moved smoothly and easily.
This is my second food slicer. My first was an inexpensive Rival slicer which could not handle roast beef. It was noisy, flimsy, and downright dangerous to use. The cuts were uneven, thicker at the top and thinner at the bottom. I was worried that getting paper thin slices from a consumer-grade slicer was not possible. The 667 proved me wrong. It surpassed all of my expectations and performed similarly to the big Hobarts that I've used in the past.
I do have some major complaints about this otherwise excellent slicer.
There are several joints in the housing of this slicer which allow meat juices drip inside the body of the unit. One such joint is located right where the motor housing attaches to the main base. This joint is located right where the sliced food falls as it's being cut, a very poor design. There is another joint where the blade thickness arm protrudes through the base. Juices from my roast beef dripped into the base of the slicer through these joints and started dripping out near one of the rubber feet on the opposite end of the unit. Yuk! The only way to clean up this mess was to remove the screws, rubber feet, and plastic cover from the bottom of the slicer. One shouldn't have to disassemble an appliance to properly clean it!
Also, to remove and clean the blade, you must use the Allen wrench to remove a single screw in the center of the front blade guard (poor design). Next you attach the plastic blade guard. Finally, using a screwdriver, you must remove three Phillips-head screws which secure the blade to the spindle. Not only is this inconvenient, but the screw heads will eventually wear and/or strip after repeated cleanings. Note: The blade should be removed to thoroughly clean the slicer since it's difficult to clean behind the blade. Another poor design.
In Summary
Overall, I am very happy with the performance of this slicer. It's sturdy, powerful, quiet, and slices exceptionally well. However, clean-up is another story. This slicer is definitely "consumer grade" (not "commercial grade" as advertised) and will make a fine addition to any gourmet kitchen. When slicing juicy foods, I'd recommend using lots of paper towels placed strategically to catch the liquids before they can get inside the unit.
post #4 of 11
Obviously this person has never had to clean a slicer in a commercial setting.

I mean no disrespect but I highly doubt that you're gonna us this slicer in a year the way a place like the Carnegie Deli might in a day. It's price point is very reasonable especially since the alternatives are the cheap 90.00 serrated blade models that can't effectively cut butter or like you mentioned spending 4000.00 on a real nice Berkel or Hobart model. Then just try and move one of those around and they still have to be completely dismantled to clean properly. ;)

In many respects "perfect" is quite subjective. I've used the 4000.00 slicers and also used the 667. IMHPPO They are "perfect" for the applications they are intended for.
post #5 of 11
I gave the 667 to a friend for Xmas who I cook with often. Both of us love it for home use- commercial use, no way. The critique above seems accurate to me- I havent experienced the cleaning problem but I haven't sliced anything quite that rare yet.

Chef's Choice also makes a cheapo $99 unit that is acceptable for the price for home use, IMHO.
post #6 of 11
Moving this to the Equipment board. :)
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
"Notorious stickler" -- The New York Times, January 4, 2004
post #7 of 11
Thread Starter 
OK Ya all;
Thanks for all of the helpful suggestions. Don't anyone laugh (Especially oldschool1982) but say I wanted to get an entry level Berkel, Hobart, or Globe slicer ... can you recommend one brand over the other and a particular model that you've had (have) good experience with ? How about the Berkel 825A or 825E ?

After doing some research, I discovered some of the lower end slicers by Berkel and possibly Hobart too can be purchased new for under $1,000.

For all my life whether we're talking about Computer equipment, Stereo Equipment, or Cooking Equipment, or anything else, I always tend to chose quality, reliability and more bells and whistles over cost.

So even if you think this is way overkill for the home chef, I'd like to see what you can recommend/suggest. I need to order one next week.

Thanks. Tim
post #8 of 11
Not laughing here. I'd love to take some of the equipment I've had in my kitchens and have it at home. Berkel is a good name. But the Chef Choice 667 is about the same as far as "bells and whistles" goes. Especially when you're talking slicers and there's not much that can be added and have the slicer still remain functional. Both are Manufactured by the same company if I'm not mistaken. But if I am.....:o

The one big difference you're gonna find is the cost. You can get 2 Chef Choice models for the price of one Berkel and since you're using this at home wear and tear should never come into play.

Personally, Even if I had the extra 400 bucks lying around I would still find it hard to buy the Berkel for home use. It's just too much slicer for the home needs.

I'd also like to address something about your other post on the Berkel here. The 825 sells for around 900.00 It is a nice all around good use slicer and have used them for cutting scallopini slices when I worked as a butcher.
But I still say it's overkill for home use. Heck even the 667 is for that fact.

Good luck on the decision.
post #9 of 11
Thread Starter 
Hi Oldschool1982;
Thanks for your additional thoughts. Based upon a few reviews I read, some of the higher-end Chef's Choice slicers had problems that scared me. And I discovered that I could have a restaurant-quality slicer (A Berkel) for a few hundred dollars more than the highest-end Chef's Choice Slicer. I may agree that a Chef's Choice slicer is an excellent investment if I would have the opportunity to try it out myself but right now, my only reliability reports come from user reviews.

Since Berkel is generally sold to Restaurants and fools like me (Ha Ha Ha ...), I figure they must work reliability in this setting because the restaurant won't be making any money if their slicer is always broken. So fAR, I havn't heard any reports that they are unreliable though I am curious why a broken one is being sold on Ebay right now for $199 (For parts). Who knows its history, though. I can't imagine a slicer being too complicated electrically.

I have read lots of horror stories about slicers costing under $100 (Mostly from Amazon.com) so I figure I atleast need to spend a few hundred to get a half way decent model. Since I was originally planning to purchase the highest end Chef's Choice for about $600, I figured I'll spend $100 more and get a slicer actually used in a restaurant setting and probably built a lot better.

Ya know, Oldschool1982, some folks just like High-end stuff even if most others think they're crazy - it's a symbol of status. I have been fascinated how good several local restaurants make their Roast Beef and I have an ambition to reproduce their work.

post #10 of 11
No problem hope I was able to help.
Just a side note too about the slicer thingy. Be careful man. They will litterally bite your fingers off. I have seen my fair share of slicer mishaps in the last 30 years and they ain't pretty. And this involves some folks that are seasoned vets when using/cleaning them

Just use a high degree of caution. Never clean while plugged in and for Gawds sake make sure if you have little ones running thru the house on a regular basis or even occasionally, they never under any circumstance think it's a "cool toy". Status symbol or not it's a real kitchen tool and can be enjoyed by all when all the digits remain whole and intact.
post #11 of 11
Thread Starter 
Thanks again, OldSchool1982;
I have heard slicers could be dangerous a long time agqo from my brother who used to work in a Deli. He said it seemed like everytone who worked there got cut on them atleast once. I'll be careful. With all of your extensive experience, I take your suggestions seriously.

And there are no little ones running around or even big ones - only me.

Oh by the way, I just heard back from the fella who was selling that broken Berkel 827A on Ebay that I mentioned in my previous message. It actually wasn't broken - it still works but he said that the serving tray was missing and this needs to be in place for the slicer to operate. He says that other parts are missing too though he didn't specify which ones. I would have bid on it for only $199 but I really wanted a working machine and the 827A is a little too big and heavy for me.

I suppose Globe is another manufacturer I should look at - I saw one of those at the local Arby's this past weekend. It's amazing how similar they look to the Berkel's (It's like one company stole the design from the other) and the cost is also comparable.

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