Award-winning Detroit chef, philanthropist Maxcel Hardy dies at 40

Celebrated Detroit Chef Maxcel Hardy has died, leaving behind a tireless foundation of philanthropy and popular restaurants.

The Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance announced the death of Hardy, 40, on social media Tuesday.

Hardy was an award-winning chef who owned both Jed's Detroit and COOP Caribbean Fusion in the city, Irie Smoke Shack in Lansing and was the founder of One Chef Can 86 Hunger Foundation.

Chef Max as he was known, earned his culinary degree from Johnson & Wales University — North Miami, and started out there before relocating to New York and eventually back home to Detroit.

Hardy competed on Food Network BBQ Brawl, was a cook book author and had his own signature spice line and created Chef Max Designs, a chef apparel line.

Hardy was recognized by The New York Times as one of the 16 Black chefs changing food in America,

Photo from Irie Smoke Shack Facebook

""I eat, breathe, and sleep cooking," said Hardy, in an interview with Hour Detroit Magazine, which named him Chef of the Year for 2021. "I don’t know anything else. When I wake up in the morning, I’m ready for 7 a.m. to get here so that I can start cooking."

From 2009 - 2014, Chef Max was the full-time personal chef for NBA superstar Amar’e Stoudemire. During that time, he co-authored a cookbook with Stoudemire called Cooking with Amar’e – 100 Easy Recipes for Pros and Rookies in the Kitchen.

The Metro Detroit Black Business Alliance posted about the work Hardy did in the community.

Photo from

Photo from

"Chef Max was one of our very first members and was a leader in the Alliance," the post said. "He served as a celebrity judge at our 2023 Juneteenth Freedom Fest, was a continuous Silent Auction Donor at our annual holiday party, aided his voice to our advocacy initiatives and mentored many Black businesses. Passionate about reform in the hospitality industry, Max was poised to lead our upcoming Hospitality Success Program.

"We remember Chef Max for his leadership, unwavering commitment to our community and to helping Black businesses. There will never be another."

One Chef Can 86 Hunger is a not-for-profit organization combating the hunger epidemic in America.

According to his website, Chef Max completed and finished as a runner-up for The Food Network’s Chopped and has been featured in Arise TV, Bon Appétit, Essence Magazine, Fox 5 Good Day New York, NBC’s, New York Post, MSNBC’s Melissa Harris-Perry Show and, WABC News.