David McCelvey started as a busboy in a little restaurant in Bowling Green, Kentucky. After graduating from Western Kentucky University in 1989, he enrolled in the Culinary Institute. Then he externed at Bistro Roti in San Francisco, but while there, he was invited to apprentice to Celebrity Chefs at the Aspen Food & Wine Festival, where he first met Emeril Lagasse. He then traveled to France and apprenticed in a one-star Michelin restaurant.
Returning to the USA, he went down to New Orleans for a weekend and ate at Emeril’s new restaurant, and was blown away. When Lagasse opened his NOLA restaurant in the French Quarter, he hired David McCelvey and another Great Chef, Michael Jordan, as sous chefs. It was there in 1992 that Great Chefs Television taped him for their Great Chefs, the Louisiana New Garde series for the Discovery Channel.
David went on to help Emeril develop restaurants in New Orleans, Florida and Las Vegas before leaving in 2007, to become the executive director of culinary for the corporate offices of Chipotle Mexican Grill in Denver. A year later, he returned to Emeril’s as Vice President of Operations. In December of 2014, he followed the trail of his friend and Great Chef, Horst Pfeiffer, and bought the legendary uptown New Orleans restaurant Frankie & Johnny’s.