Danny Amend grew up in Santa Rosa, California, where his father owned a roofing company and his mother was an artist. The family had a big garden, and Amend became fascinated with it. His experimentation in the kitchen was a byproduct of his curiosity, and his parents agreed that if he could keep his grades up, he could work in restaurants. By the time he left for the Culinary Institute of America after high school, he had years of experience under his belt, including some time spent as a butcher.
Amend externed at the French Laundry, which exposed him to fine dining, and after graduation, he headed down to San Francisco, viewing it as a stepping stone out to New York City. He landed a job at Boku, and then, through a connection, a stint at Mix, which Alain Ducasse had just opened in Las Vegas. Amend headed to the Big Apple at Essex House, where he was part of the team that netted that venue three Michelin stars.
Amend spent some time at Per Se, before he and fellow chef Jonathan Adler, became co-chefs at franny's. The pair built the restaurant into a neighborhood joint constantly thronged by hours-long lines. The original franny's location evolved into Marco's, where Amend was the chef until December 2014.