When Justin Bogle was a junior in high school, he got a part-time job bussing tables at the then-River City Diner on Main Street in Manayunk.
He never imagined it would lead to a lucrative career in the restaurant industry, but at 32, Bogle is the youngest chef to have received two Michelin stars (at the age of 28) and is at the helm of Avance, the fine dining restaurant he opened at 1523 Walnut St. in December.
Getting his start
Bogle realized cooking was his true passion during a break from college. “I went to West Chester University right out of high school, but I didn’t really know why I was going there,” he said.
He decided to take a year off and began working at the now-shuttered Fish on Main in Manayunk. Then one day, the chef asked him to help out in the kitchen when someone didn’t show up.
“After the shift he turned to me and said ‘you’re on my schedule now.’ I continued to work in the kitchen and I fell in love,” Bogle said.
After graduating from the Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College in 2002 and working in the kitchens of Stephen Starr’s Alma de Cuba and Striped Bass, the Roxborough-native moved to New York to take a sous chef position at Gilt alongside executive chef, Christopher Lee.
When Lee left in 2008, Bogle took over as executive chef for five years, earning the restaurant its two-star Michelin rating.
Gilt closed in Dec. 2012 after the hotel it was housed in decided to move in “a different direction,” according to Bogle.
A return to Philadelphia
After some time off Bogle was ready for a new challenge, and it came to him by way of the building that housed his hometown’s famed Le Bec Fin for over 30 years.
“I began having conversations with the ownership of Le Bec Fin about what we could do there. I made it very clear that I didn’t want to take over and be Le Bec Fin 3.0 so the decision was made to shut the restaurant down and we began working on Avance.”
On Dec. 13 Avance officially opened its doors.
“Le Bec Fin was an amazing restaurant and we want to do right by the address,” Bogle said. “But Avance is not Le Bec Fin and our biggest challenge is steering clear of that image and having our guests trust that we can provide something new but still continue the integrity and focus that earned Le Bec Fin its legacy.”
Avance maintains the fine-dining experience so embedded into the walls of 1523 Walnut Street, but offers a progressive American menu.
“From the front of the house to the back, we’re pushing the envelope at Avance…we want each experience to be a new one,” Bogle said. “We’ve cast a wider net to allow ourselves to be more approachable. Whether you want to grab a burger and a beer from the bar downstairs or the 14-course chef’s tasting, we can provide the experience you’re looking for.”
More than a month into its opening, Bogle feels positive for the future of Avance and Philadelphia’s dining culture as a whole.
“The timing was just right,” he said of his restaurant’s opening. “There are some great restaurants in Philadelphia and I think Avance will fill a void for something fresh and something new. And it’s great being back in Philadelphia,” Bogle added. “I was missing my Dalessandro’s cheesesteaks.”