For three days, producer and host John Campbell commandeered Englewoods on Dearborn restaurant while taping a new series that will air.
Before leaving the restaurant, he introduced 1960s and ‘70s rock legends Carmine Appice and Pat Travers to local fans, donated $2,800 to St. David’s Jubilee Center and created a new buzz about rock stars who love to talk about their lives while cooking and eating.
Campbell and the owners of Englewoods on Dearborn, Tony and Merrill Hollinger, gave the Englewood Sun an all-access backstage pass at the day-long taping of “Cooking with Rock Stars” segment with Pat Travers. Travers, who recorded hits like “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)” lives in Sanford, Florida. He brought his wife, Monica, and daughter, Amanda, who helped cook.
‘Cooking with Rock Stars’Each episode features an artist, sometimes with family members or friends, prepare their favorite recipes alongside host and executive producer John Campbell. The first episode will show on PBS in October and later released on streaming services like Netflix and Amazon Prime.
All 13 episodes are unique. Rockers show off their cooking skills — or lack of — in the kitchen. Once at the table, they eat, answer questions and share stories of their life on the road and what’s next.
While Campbell upcoming episodes feature Tommy DeCarlo of Boston, Mike Levine of Triumph, Steve Morse of Deep Purple, Elliot Lurie of the Looking Glass, Martha Davis of The Motels, Brian Howe of Bad Company, Jonathan Cain of Journey, Roger Earl of Foghat, Pat Travers and Carmine Appice and more.
Meet John CampbellAfter working for PBS for years and then as a freelance producer for 25 years, Campbell managed Eddie Money and others. Campbell built a data base of famous people, especially rock-and-rollers.
“For years, I had the idea of doing a show where my idol would cook whatever they wanted and then I’d sit down with them and talk about their life,” Campbell said. “A lot of these people have lived extraordinary lives. Musicians from three of the bands are Rock and Roll Hall of Famers.”
Campbell said while taping the first 13 episodes and the next season simultaneously, there have been no “kitchen disasters” and the interviews have been seamless during the 60-minute segments. It’s just catching the musicians that’s the challenge.
Guitar hero to chefTravers, 65, didn’t just want to prepare his meal and hurry into the dining room at Englewoods on Dearborn. Instead, he was precise about each ingredient in his dish. He brought his own cooking knives to chop zucchini and smash garlic cloves.
He taught Campbell some new tricks. And even how to make a raspberry vignette glaze to mix into the caramelized zucchini and his wife Monica’s chicken.
Travers said after a trip to Italy, his whole perspective on cooking came to life.
“I love to cook,” said Travers, adding he recently earned third-degree belt in Okinawan karate. “While on tour, it was impossible to cook. Monica didn’t cook. She just thought she couldn’t do it. Now she embraces it. We cook together. Our daughter Amanda also likes to cook with us.”
“We’ve been married for 28 years,” said Travers. “We’ve known each other for 31 years. I wouldn’t do anything differently if it didn’t lead me to Monica. I wouldn’t be happy.”
Monica TraversMonica collected cookbooks but she didn’t really use them. She admits when Pat was on the road touring with his band, she didn’t cook much for her children Amanda and Elijah.
“We went to McDonald’s,” she said. “I know that wasn’t so good. Now, I use my cookbooks. Amanda and Pat use them as a guide, but I have to follow the exact recipes. Pat’s the cook in the family. I learned from the best. He could make an old boot taste good.”
Over time, Monica realized she could cook. Her rock star husband told her it was OK to test new things, to burn food because the pot is too hot, and to occasionally fail. Ultimately that advice landed her some beloved homemade dishes that elate the family.
Monica stayed home after having two children. She quickly learned that touring isn’t glamorous.
“It’s boring,” she said. “You do a lot of traveling and waiting around. You don’t get to sight see or go shopping. You go from one place to the next and eat lousy food in between.”
Child of a rock starWhen she learned her parents were filming a show about rock and rollers cooking and talking shop, she was intrigued. She was also invited to share her newly acquired pasta skills.
“I received a Kitchen Aide mixer for Christmas,” she said. “So I’ve only been making my own pasta since February. It’s so rewarding.”
Amanda grew up understanding her dad played guitar, sang and toured everywhere. The summer Amanda entered ninth grade, she had typical teenage problems a child with or without a rock-and-roll dad would understand.
“My dad was in the studio in Canada during the summer so we went up to be with him,” she said. “I was a generally a good kid. But, I had gotten into a little trouble. My dad ended up writing a song about me called ‘I’ve Got Love to Give.’ That’s on the Fidelis album. He also wrote a song for my brother called ‘Elijah.’ One of my top favorites are ‘The End’ because it’s a song that embodies my dad perfectly. I tear up when I listen to that song.”
Englewoods on Dearborn“The first thing Tony wanted to know was how much would it cost for the cast and crew to come tape the TV show,” Merrill said of her husband’s sharp business sense.
“When they said it’s free and it could be turned into a fundraiser, he said, ‘I’m listening.’ We watched a lot of the behind the scenes and met people with extensive experience in the music, television and film industry. We’re impressed.”