Despite what you may have heard, when it comes to their diets, professional athletes are not all about bottomless stacks of pancakes or five-dollar footlongs. In fact, these days, the top-performing men and women in sports prefer a more culinary approach. Meet the man who is changing the healthy-eating game: Chef Max Hardy.

He’s been the personal chef to New York Knicks forward-center Amar’e Stoudemire since 2010, and caters to a clientele that includes a roster of pro athletes, actors, hip-hop and R&B artists, and dignitaries such as the Prince of Dubai.

While nutrition is top priority — Chef Max works in conjunction with sports nutritionist Heidi Skolnik — he places a premium on flavor, and designs dishes that could compete against the finest gourmet eateries. But getting his athletes on board hasn’t always been easy. “When I started working with Amar’e, he was so used to burgers and French fries, picking something up to go after a game,” says Hardy. “I would have to ‘hide’ healthy ingredients in his foods, sneaking Chia seeds into potatoes, or beets into smoothies. But he’s really embraced the lifestyle. His willpower to be the best is so high.”

Not only has Stoudemire become a healthy-eating convert, he’s become a budding chef under Max’s watch. “We’re actually working on a cookbook together that will come out next year, called Cooking With Amar’e,” says Hardy. “It’ll be a culinary bible of sorts, with ideas of how we cook with our kids, what we’d have at a backyard barbeque.”

When he’s not fueling up athletes, Chef Max pursues his passions for philanthropy and fashion, teaching inner city kids about healthy eating and cooking through his nonprofit One Chef Can 86 Hunger and putting a designer twist on the traditional chef jacket with Chef Max Designs.

Read Amar’e’s game day routine here.

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