If anybody is harboring doubts about the benefits of a culinary past on e-liquid mixing, the Vapor Chef is the perfect example of the value of taste-crafting experience. The liquids – on the whole – give off the impression of being carefully-crafted flavor sensations; the menu contains unique combinations, but they’re always more than a gimmick. When you’ve tried the e-liquids, it doesn’t seem so surprising that the Vapor Chef could go from an unknown to a huge name in over a year. If you make e-liquid this well, vapers start to pay attention.
The story of the Vapor Chef is a lesson in how quickly things move in the e-cigarette industry. Founded in January 2013, the Vapor Chef has gone from being a tiny start-up to arguably one of the most popular e-liquid vendors in the industry today. The name is taken from the founder and owner, an actual career chef turned e-liquid mixer, whose refined palate gave him a natural talent for mixing.
After spending a couple of years DIY-ing as a hobby, someone asked him why he didn’t sell his e-liquids online, and that was all the encouragement that he needed. Now the Vapor Chef applies the same zeal he developed for crafting dishes to refining and perfecting his e-liquid recipes, and it seems to have worked. The “Menu” includes a wide array of uniquely-named flavors, from Funky Monkey, through Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and video game references (Beeblebrox, Deep Thought and Half Life 3) to the legendary Unicorn Poop.
In addition to the gourmet e-liquid approach, the Vapor Chef also take special care to only use high-quality ingredients, with USP certified PG and VG and US-made nicotine base liquid. If this wasn’t enough, they ensure all their flavorings are diacetyl, acetoin and acetyl propionyl free, mix everything fresh to order and ship them out within three days. It’s abundantly clear that they value quality at the Vapor Chef, and with the generally positive reception to their juices so far, it looks like a promising collection. We’ve put 12 of their e-liquids to the test for our the Vapor Chef e-liquid review to see if they live up to the hype.
The Vapor Chef Mixing Options
The standard PG/VG ratio for Vapor Chef e-liquids is 50/50, giving a fairly smooth vape and a nice thick cloud of vapor without making the juice itself overly viscous. All of the liquids we tried were in 50/50, but they do offer other options if you want to tip the balance a little. You can choose between 70/30 or 30/70 ratios, if you prefer PG or VG to dominate, or even get a max PG or max VG option. This is more than enough choice (unless you’re extremely particular about your ratios), providing an option for PG-sensitive vapers or those with a broad preference. It might not matter too much to some vapers, but it’s great that the Vapor Chef have the option available rather than enforcing a standard across all liquids.
The standard five nicotine levels are available through the Vapor Chef – 0 mg, 6 mg, 12 mg, 18 mg and 24 mg per ml – which are suitable for the vast majority of vapers. There are no complaints here – perhaps a stronger option would be better for just-switching heavy smokers, but it’s an extremely minor issue that will only affect a select few.
Packaging and Design
Vapor Chef e-liquids either come in plastic or glass bottles, depending on the size you buy. We picked up four 30 ml glass bottles (which come with an extra 6 ml plastic bottle) and eight 6 ml plastic taster bottles, and you can also pick up 15 ml plastic bottles or huge 60 ml glass ones. The label design is minimalistic and effortlessly stylish; black and white with the kitchen-knife logo front and center, reminding you that you’re settling in for some carefully-crafted flavors. The bottles also include a mixing date and all the expected information about the juice, its ingredients and a warning to keep it away from kids and pets.
The Vapor Chef – Flavors
PB Nomnoms – Rating 4.5/5
Accuracy: PB Nomnoms is described on the Vapor Chef site as “warm peanut butter cookies, brown sugar and vanilla,” marking the start of their trend of making juices with silly names sound like culinary delights. In this case the boasting is entirely warranted; the smooth, luxurious peanut butter flavor comes in softly but clearly, supported by sweet undertones evidently stemming from the brown sugar and vanilla elements. The brown sugar settles down into the mix, but the vanilla pops out for an occasional moment in the spotlight, riding on the wave of gentle, warming peanut butter.
Overall: This is an excellent e-liquid, with just the right amount of sweetness to keep you going back for more. The Chef-like ability to balance flavors is immediately obvious. The flavors don’t jump right out of the juice and overwhelm your tastebuds with sweetness and noxious peanut essence, but gently roll in through the plumes of vapor with a buttery, seductive appeal. It’s definitely one for your sweet tooth, but more like a delicate, Michelin-star dessert that oozes class than scoffing a finger-full of peanut butter right out of the jar.
Some ‘Mores – Rating 3.5/5
Accuracy: This is intended as a s’mores-flavored liquid; toasted marshmallows, Graham crackers and chocolate. The first flavor that comes through is the toasted marshmallow, evoking memories of biting into the crisp, slightly blackened outer layer roasted on an open fire. The chocolate is rich, but remains a bit-player in the e-liquid, providing an undercurrent of sweetness with the support – although it’s hard to pick out – of the Graham cracker.
Overall: Some ‘Mores makes for an enjoyable vape, but not one of the stand-out options from the Vapor Chef; the sweet smokiness of the toasted marshmallows and the chocolate produces an enjoyable mix, but the subtlety of the flavor may work against it a little. On one hand, it’s gentle nature means it’s easy to vape at length, but my love of relentless sweetness leaves me wanting the sweet flavor – primarily the chocolate – to be a little more obvious with this liquid.
Shmuffer Shmutter – Rating 5/5
Accuracy: The unique name of this e-liquid gives no clues as to what it is, but upon reading the description – “Peanut butter, bananas and toasted marshmallows. Enough said.” – it’s hard to not order a bottle. The banana and peanut butter jostle for dominance, playing off each other and producing a beautiful combination. Although Vapor Chef gave the toasted marshmallow center-stage in Some ‘Mores, in Shmuffer Shmutter it’s just an extra. Still, you get exactly what you’re looking for with this e-liquid, a delectable peanut butter and banana combination with some toasted marshmallow to appreciate too if your tastebuds are delicately attuned.
Overall: The competition is stiff, but this is undoubtedly a contender for the best e-liquid flavor from the Vapor Chef. The description makes it sound awesome, but somehow still fails to do it justice. If you think peanut butter and banana seems like something a ten year old would have for breakfast if left to his own devices, you might be right, but I’d wager that the kid would have a better breakfast than you. It’s another master-class in the blending of flavors; by giving neither of the primary components prominence, they manage to become something more than they could be individually. It’s a thoroughly enjoyable e-liquid that you literally won’t want to put down.
Bloody Mango – Rating 4/5
Accuracy: This isn’t a vampire-friendly mango vape, if that’s what you’re wondering. It’s a blend of blood orange and mango, another combination that serves as an implicit reminder that you’re vaping something crafted by a chef. The mango hits you strongly, but the blood orange really gives this liquid its character. It isn’t just a fanciful idea, either, you can genuinely get the fact that you’re vaping blood orange, with the difficult-to-pin down, almost raspberry undertones differentiating it from standard orange vapes you’ve tried before. This e-liquid accomplishes exactly what it sets out to.
Overall: If you’re a fan of fruity liquids but you’re looking for something with some added character, this is definitely one to try. The juice has an inherent sweetness from the mango, but the deep, complex citrusy aroma of the blood orange is what really sets it apart. The blood orange might have been a little too unusual alone, but in combination with mango it’s another liquid you won’t get bored of anytime soon.
Slartibartfast – Rating 3.5/5
Accuracy: This is a cherry Cavendish tobacco, and is beautifully described on the Vapor Chef site as evoking memories of a traditional tobacconist, like “the smell of the fresh cherry pipe tobacco right when they opened that big glass jar to scoop some into a bag.” It sounds a little fanciful, but when you have a vape, the rich, complex notes of tobacco and the sweet, subtle suggestions of cherry take you right back. The entire thing is very understated, so if you’ve smoked a cherry pipe tobacco before, take that flavor, make it about 50 times less overwhelming and you have this. It genuinely is like the gentle odor given off by a fresh pot of cherry tobacco.
Overall: After your memories of cherry tobacco in an old, dusty tobacconist fade back into your subconscious, you’re still left with an enjoyable tobacco vape. It has the winning formula for a “tobacco” vape: it doesn’t strongly taste of tobacco and the edge is taken off by something sweet – in this case, luscious crimson cherries. Again, a subtle enough flavor that you don’t get bored of it, but in this case it could do with being dialed up by just a few notches. It’s still thoroughly enjoyable, but it would be better if it was a touch more like smoking the cherry tobacco, rather than just smelling it.
Hobbes’ Blood – Rating 4/5
Accuracy: This is intended to be a blend of watermelon and strawberry with a light touch of coconut, and it undoubtedly hits the nail on the head. The watermelon is the dominant element, but the strawberry rounds it out perfectly, with the coconut being something of an afterthought. The flavor comes through powerfully, a smooth, whooshing wave of mouth-watering fruit.
Overall: This is a very enjoyable e-liquid; fruity, light and satisfyingly sweet. In food, I can take or leave watermelon, but it seems to translate extremely well to vapor. The combination with strawberry is a masterful touch; as well as making the juice more interesting, it also compliments the dominant flavor excellently. Maybe not a flavor for everyone, but if you like the individual elements this is definitely worth a try!
Frosty Strawberry – Rating 4.5/5
Accuracy: The Vapor Chef’s description of this e-liquid, “Strawberry with a cool sensation like menthol, but, without the menthol taste,” seems bewildering and unlikely. And then you take a puff and realize that their description is completely right. The strawberry – unsurprisingly for the Vapor Chef – is immediately identifiable, accurate and immensely enjoyable, but the “frosty” element is like the cooling part of a menthol liquid without the toothpaste-minty part. For all I know, the ordinary menthol flavor is a mix of a “cooling” chemical and a “minty” chemical, and this is really easy to accomplish, but in my current ignorance the effect is virtually magical.
Overall: Extremely enjoyable. Many mixers try to blend menthol with fruit, and it can be a pretty disastrous idea when thoughtlessly put together, the fruit easily overpowered by the mint. The “frosty” approach seems like an ideal solution, providing the menthol sensation without ruining or upstaging the fruit. With the Vapor Chef handling the mixing and strawberry as the fruit of choice, it’s a winning combination.
Coolcucumber Melon – Rating 4/5
Accuracy: This juice aims to fuse mint, cucumber and honeydew melon, a light, refreshing combination with a little something for the menthol lover. The overall execution is brilliant, with the flavor of fresh mint leaves breaking through the mix and bringing the cucumber and melon elements to life. The mint is easiest to detect, but the cucumber and melon merge together and provide a light, fruity backdrop for the juice. Every single element is well-represented in this e-liquid.
Overall: A fantastic vape, particularly because – as I mentioned earlier – I’m not a big lover of melon, and I’m also prone to avoiding cucumber wherever possible, and I still enjoyed it. The reason for that could well be that the mint is the most prominent ingredient of this juice, and it’s more refined and high-quality than you’d get in a menthol liquid, but the cucumber and melon also form a very enjoyable aggregate flavor that’s preferable to either on its own. That’s from someone who doesn’t ordinarily go for this type of thing, so if it sounds delicious to you, I’ll wager that you’ll love this e-liquid.
V.C. Tobacco #13 – Rating 2/5
Accuracy: This is a tobacco flavor that apparently needs no description (other than “smoky, dry and simple”), but which has a pretty puzzling flavor. It has a similar odor to a Turkish tobacco, which is pungent and powerful at first, but then fades away as you continue your draw. This is the main taste of the liquid, and although it has a tobacco-like quality, it’s hardly something I’d say should serve as a “standard” tobacco flavor (with no other straight-up tobacco options available from Vapor Chef – although options like Honey Nut Tobacco sound delicious). It’s too distinctive to not be accompanied by some type of indication of what you’re getting, and if it is intended to be an ordinary tobacco it hasn’t really succeeded.
Overall: This is the only real disappointment from the Vapor Chef. I’m not usually a fan of Turkish-style tobaccos, and this falls into many of the same traps. It tastes musty to the point where it almost seems like it’s past its prime, despite the fact that it was mixed fresh to order. You do get used to it after a while – at which point it’s probably nothing more than “tolerable” for me – and pungent tobacco lovers may enjoy it, but there’s nothing broadly appealing about it.
Frosty Apple – Rating 3/5
Accuracy: This time apple gets the “frosty,” cool-without-menthol treatment, and the effect is very much like the strawberry version. The fruit comes through clearly, and it’s backed up by a cooling sensation on the draw that makes the liquid more than just another apple option. The apple is fairly understated, though; you get a definite impression of the flavor but it doesn’t have enough oomph to be comparable to biting into a fresh red apple.
Overall: There is nothing too special about this liquid, but it’s nice enough to vape in any case. The soft flavor makes it easy to get through, but you’ll do so more for the nicotine than the taste of the liquid here. It’s light and fairly tasty, but amongst such a well-performing set of liquids it would need a little extra to stand out. The strawberry is the better of the “frosty” options we tried, but there’s nothing really “wrong” with Frosty Apple, it just could be better.
Funky Monkey – Rating 5/5
Accuracy: A mixture of banana, chocolate, nuts and vanilla that manages to be as downright delicious as it sounds. The chocolate is rich and smooth, the banana jumps out of the mix to provide a tropical sweetness and the nuts chime in to give the whole liquid some character. The vanilla is admittedly overwhelmed in this competitive combination, but it doesn’t really matter when you’re vaping it. Who cares whether you can detect a hint of vanilla when your tastebuds are being tantalized by the amalgamated nutty, luxurious milk chocolate and the sweet aroma of ripe bananas? Well, I find it difficult to care so much; I just assume the vanilla must be part of this deliciousness I’m currently enjoying somewhere.
Overall: If the previous description didn’t give it away, this is another absolutely delicious offering from the Vapor Chef. It’s so tasty you could use it to satiate your cravings for sweet, calorific treats if you were on a diet. It tastes like banana ice cream, smothered in homemade chocolate sauce and topped with nuts, but every single spoonful is a symphony of all of the flavors. If you like the sound of the flavor combination, save yourself the time later on and just get a decent-sized bottle. A 6 ml taster of this just won’t cut it, and 15 ml will be gone before you know it.
Honey Pearry – Rating 4.5/5
Accuracy: Although the fruity options from the Vapor Chef usually come through strongly, Honey Pearry blows most of them out of the water. The pear is powerful and unmistakable, the fruit hitting you immediately and the intertwined honey transforming it from a standard fruity vape into something which oozes a Vapor Chef level of class. The vast majority of the flavors we tried did a great job of capturing the intended flavor, but Honey Pearry is potentially the best of the bunch in this department.
Overall: This e-liquid is consistently enjoyable, even after you’ve vaped it at length every single puff still comes with the perfect mixture of flavor. The Chef’s abilities shine through this e-liquid; it seems hard to believe that there is a better pear-based e-liquid on the market today. With this, you get everything you wanted and more, a continuously mouth-watering vape that retains the lightness you associate with the fruit but still tastes like a vape-able dessert from a high-class restaurant. It’s indulgent.