Chef Brian’s Greatest Hits

Hill cooked for Mary J. Blige on and off for nearly four years. He shares three dishes that topped her charts.


by #teamEBONY, May 03, 2012



“Mary’s hands-down favorite. I made it for her the first time we met, December 29, 2004. I cooked for her party, and everyone loved it. This is a huge cheat salad because of the mayo and the pasta, so I generally made it on the weekend.”

Serves 6 to 8


16-ounce box of medium shell pasta

1 tablespoon salt

2 cups chopped cooked lobster tail

2 cups chopped cooked shrimp (preferably jumbo Gulf shrimp)

1 pound fresh lump crabmeat

¼ cup minced celery

¼ cup minced yellow onion

About 2 cups mayonnaise

1 tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning

2 cups chopped cilantro (do not mince) 


In a 2-quart saucepan, bring water to a boil, then add pasta and salt. Do not overcook. Transfer pasta to a large bowl and let cool. In a separate large mixing bowl, combine lobster, shrimp, celery and onion. Add pasta to the bowl of seafood and fold ingredients while adding the mayonnaise. When thoroughly blended, add crabmeat and seasoning. Serve and top with the chopped cilantro.  


“I’d get a call—‘Hey, Mary is craving your fried chicken’—and they’d book a flight for me to go from L.A. to New Jersey and cook it for the weekend. No lie.”

Makes 6 to 8


2 pounds chicken cutlets (cut in half)

2 tablespoons sea salt

2 teaspoons black pepper

¼ cup chopped fresh garlic 

2 tablespoons hot sauce

32-ounce bottle canola oil

4 cups all-purpose flour

Hawaiian sweet rolls (split)

Paprika Mayonnaise

¼ cup fresh lemon juice

1 cup of mayonnaise

½ teaspoon sea salt

1 tablespoon paprika


In a medium mixing bowl, add the chicken, 1 tablespoon of the sea salt, 1 teaspoon of the black pepper, the garlic and the hot sauce. Mix all ingredients with your hands and let marinate in the refrigerator 3-4 hours.

Fill a deep saucepan 2/3 full with the oil and set to a medium heat. In a brown paper bag, combine the flour and remaining salt and pepper. Add the marinated chicken to the seasoned flour and shake bag until fully coated. Add chicken to the hot oil and fry until golden brown. Toast the sweet rolls and coat both halves with the Paprika Mayonnaise. Top with the chicken.


“Mary likes flavor, and she likes snacks, but she ain’t looking for Jolly Joes! She’s been all over the world, so she’s epicurious. Snacks can be savory or sweet, but [she wants] something yummy. All Mary said was, ‘Your pear pie? Mmmph!’”

Serves 6 to 8


1 ready-made pie crust (bottom)

1 rolled-dough pie crust (top)

About 6 cups sliced pears

1 stick of salted butter (softened)

½ teaspoon ground cinnamon

1 cup sugar

2 pinches nutmeg

3 pinches sea salt

Egg Wash

1 large egg

2 pinches cinnamon

3 pinches sugar


Preheat oven to 350 and bake bottom pie crust until golden brown. In a large mixing bowl, combine sliced pears, all remaining ingredients and mix with your hands until pears are thoroughly coated. Gently place pears in the bottom crust until full. Unroll rolled-dough pie crust and lay it atop the pie, pinching edges. [Crust made from rolled dough will be lighter than the ready-made crust, and, so is more appropriate for crimping and finishing.] For the egg wash, whisk egg, cinnamon and sugar in a small mixing bowl. Using a pastry brush, sweep egg wash liberally atop your pie. Bake 40 minutes.

Read more in the June 2012 issue of EBONY Magazine on page 68.



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