Cooking with Rockstars is a video podcast at the intersection of two of my passions: cooking and indie rock music. In it, I hang out with my favorite artists and chat about what they like to cook and eat. Occasionally, I even get to cook with them! Originally called “The Jenville Show,” it ran from 2002 to 2008, starting well before YouTube appeared and video on the web exploded. I’ll be republishing the old interviews—and maybe creating a few new ones—over the coming months.
About Host and Producer,
I am a graphic designer, author, food enthusiast, and lifelong music fan. Professionally, I’m best known for my work in the world of web design. I was the designer of the first commercial web site, Global Network Navigator, in 1993 and wrote one of the very first books on web design, Designing for the Web, in 1994. Since then I’ve written 13 books, including the well-known Web Design in a Nutshell and the best-selling Learning Web Design, now in its 5th edition. I also co-founded the ARTIFACT Conference that explored best practices for designing sites for all mobile devices and all the people who use them. I’m currently looking for my next “thing.” Cooking with Rockstars remains one of my all-time favorite projects.
The Back Story
Back in 2002, some friends were bugging me to do a Martha Stewart-esque cable access television show that combined cooking, music, crafts, and technology, topics I frequently wrote about on my personal site. I was running the idea by my musician friend, Jesse Blatz (of the band, The Fly Seville), and he said “Ok, I’ll be on your show, but I also want to cook!” A lightbulb went off… focus only on cooking and music and somehow merge them together.
I didn’t know how to make a TV show (and nobody watched cable access anyway), but I did know how to build a website. I realized I could just record interviews on my personal video camera (this is years before smartphones) and post the videos on the web. The Jenville Show was born!
Although I had originally wanted to actually cook with the rockstars, my best access to them was when they were in town on tour, so most of the interviews were grabbed around soundcheck. A dark, noisy club at soundcheck time is a terrible place to conduct a video interview, so you’ll see that many of the early shows were done on street corners, stairwells, tour busses, broom closets… anywhere that might be a little more quiet. Between less-than-ideal locations and the state of digital video in 2002, the early episode quality is pretty poor. Sorry about that.
In 2007, I renamed the show the more descriptive Cooking with Rockstars. In addition to the new name, I got the help of a director, James Holland, who did the shooting and editing for each episode. Prior to that, I did it all myself (which you can probably tell). In addition to vastly improving the production quality, James had the brilliant idea that we should do the interviews in a limo. Having our own space allowed us to take our time setting up the lighting and mics. When the artists were available, we whooshed them into the limo, poured champagne, conducted the interview, and sent them on their way. Limos are fun.
When the economy melted down in late 2008, I needed to find a project that made money instead of costing money, so I put the project down for a while. As things turned out, I did not pick it up again. The site broke and then went offline a few years after that. But now it’s back with a modern, mobile-friendly design. I’m so very excited to have all the interviews and recipes together in one place.
About This Site
What you are looking at is the newly rebuilt Cooking with Rockstars site, launched in 2020. The original site was offline for eight years, but thankfully, with the generous support of Jeffrey Zeldman and his Special Projects team at Automattic, the site has been completely redesigned and lives again, hosted by Pressable and powered by WordPress.
If you are curious, you can see the 2008 version of the site on the Wayback Machine here.
- Concept: Jennifer Niederst Robbins
- Web site design & production: Sonia Gabella, Nudge Design
- Project management: WordPress team at Automatic
- Video editing, pre-2005: All episodes posted prior to 2005 were
hacked togetheredited by Final Cut Pro novice, Jennifer Robbins.
- Video editing, 2007 onward: The Ben Kweller and Rufus Wainwright episodes were edited by the very talented Cherry Arnold. All other videos released in 2007 were edited by talented video and filmmaker, James Holland.
- Intro motion graphics: Bryan Boyer, Cultural Embassador of Jenville
- Theme Song: Jeff Robbins
- Camera: (see credits posted with individual interviews) Jeff Robbins, Lane Becker, Ellie Lee, Liam Lynch, Josh Stenger, Adam Roffman, James Holland, Ryan King