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Max Hardy, 40, Dies; Helped Bring Chef-Driven Cuisine to Detroit

Max Hardy, who helped bring a new level of chef-driven yet accessible cuisine to his native Detroit, and who was widely considered among the most promising of a young generation of Black culinary stars, died on Monday. He was 40.

His publicist, David E. Rudolph, announced the death but did not provide a cause or location. He said Mr. Hardy had been in good health as recently as the weekend.

Though he was born in Detroit, Mr. Hardy moved with his family to South Florida when he was young. As a budding chef, he drew on the region’s Latin American influences, as well as his mother’s Bahamian heritage, mastering dishes like jerk pork ribs, fried plantains and ackee and salt fish, the national dish of Jamaica. He married those influences with a deep love for South Carolina Lowcountry cuisine like shrimp and grits, fried fish and hoppin’ John.

After more than a decade as the private chef for the basketball star Amar’e Stoudemire, followed by a few years working in New York City kitchens, he returned to Detroit in 2017 to open a string of high-profile restaurants, including River Bistro, Coop Caribbean Fusion and Jed’s Detroit, a pizza-and-wings shop.

He worked constantly and with an entrepreneur’s energy. He had his own lines of chef clothing and dry spices. He partnered with Kellogg’s to bring plant-based items from the company’s Morningstar Farms brand to restaurants like his. And he appeared regularly on Food Network programs like “Chopped” and “BBQ Brawl.”

Mr. Hardy served a meal made with ingredients from a farm in downtown Detroit for a 2018 taping of the TV show “Scraps: Parts Uneaten.”Credit…David E. Rudolph

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