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In many ways, Chef Max Hardy’s job is a combination of his two loves: cooking and basketball. As New York Knicks Amar’e Stoudemire’s personal chef, he works closely with the New York Knicks players and gets to hang out and cook for them on a weekly basis.
Keeping with the spirit of the NBA playoffs, we interviewed Hardy on what it is like cooking for the athletes.
What is it like cooking for NBA players?
It’s cool because I can kind of relate to a lot of them. I played basketball, and I wanted to be a NBA star like they are. And being with them every day, you start to develop a relationship that’s more than being a chef. It turns into somewhat of a friendship.
What is their diet like?
Their diet is definitely different just because they burn so many calories per game. There’s a lot of protein. You definitely get your starches in. It’s not just one specific dish I give him. But Amar’e’s favorite thing is barbecue beef ribs, so we do that quite often. It’s a lot of protein, some shakes, and just vegetables. Sometimes they’ll even have a cheat day, so we’ll do six days of their diet and one day of a cheat day. You get to enjoy with them and when I’m cooking, they like to come into the kitchen. You’re always chatting about different things, about life in general.
Can you give us specifics?
During game days, they burn about 4,000 calories per game. With that, I have to get them different proteins, different starches, and carbs to fuel them back up. So when you think of a plate size, I usually go for for 25 percent starch, 25 percent vegetables, and about 50 percent protein. So it can range from a 12-ounce to a 24-ounce steak. It just varies day to day.
Sounds hectic. Give us a rundown of what a normal day is like in New York City for you.
It’s a little crazy, and it changes every day. Normally, I’ll do his shopping and prep for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. But I’ll give you the schedule for game day. I’ll get to his house around 8:30 in the morning and cook until 9:30. He’ll take a nap, and get up around 12:30 to 1 and have a lunch. And then maybe take another nap. After that, it’s pre-game from around 3:30 to 4, and then he’ll head out to the game. I’ll head out with him, watch the game. Then I’ll come back at around 9 to 10. And normally, he’ll have some players around from his team. Every game, it’s around six to 12 people.