Detroit Restaurateur and Community Advocate Max Hardy Dies at Age 40

His cause of death is currently unknown.
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Chef Maxcel Hardy
Photograph by Joe Vaughn

Maxcel (Max) Hardy, a Detroit chef who worked to combat hunger, died unexpectedly on Monday night at age 40. His cause of death is currently unknown.

Hardy, a native Detroiter and owner of COOP Caribbean Fusion at Detroit Shipping Company, the pizza and burger restaurant Jed’s Detroit on Seven Mile Road, and the now-shuttered River Bistro, was a beloved chef and earned several titles for culinary excellence over the years.

In 2021, he was named Hour Detroit’s Restaurateur of the Year as well as one of the Detroit Free Press’ Food Fighters during the COVID-19 pandemic. He was also listed on the New York Times’ list of 16 Black chefs changing food in America that same year and attended the Black Excellence Culinary Symphony 2024 in Greektown last month, the Free Press reports.

From 2009-2014, Hardy worked as a personal chef for Amar’e Stoudemire of the New York Knicks, trained several chefs in Miami, New York, and Los Angeles, and even competed on The Food Network’s Chopped, according to his website.

But his work in the kitchen was only one part of his career.

According to Metro Times, Hardy was also a community advocate and offered culinary classes to through his non-profit, One Chef Can 86 Hunger, and worked with the Too Many Cooks in the Kitchen for Good initiative, which provides meals to the homeless.

“Growing up, I went without a lot,” Hardy told Hour Detroit back in 2021. “Seeing so many other people help me and give to me was something that I loved, and so I wanted to be able to give back.”

In addition to his business ventures and advocacy work, Hardy co-authored two cookbooks. He was also set to open a new seafood restaurant called What’s Crackin’ on the Avenue of Fashion this spring ahead of the 2024 Draft, according to Eater.

Hardy turned 40 in December and is survived by his mother and two children. His family is asking for “prayers, thoughts, and privacy” during this time as they mourn the loss.

For more metro Detroit community news, visit hourdetroit.com.