New York and Philadelphia: both brilliant food towns in their own rights. And the best of both cities resides in Justin Bogle, an Illadelph transplant who now heads the kitchen at Midtown restaurant Gilt. Bogle, who lives with his wife in Battery Park City, is the youngest New York chef to receive two Michelin stars for three years in a row. Gilt is housed in The New York Palace's historic Villard Mansion, and was one of Forbes' Top Five Spots Worthy of a Marriage Proposal.
We spoke to Chef Bogle about his progressive American cuisine and how he and his team keep it romantic.
How do you create a cuisine to match GILT's romantic vibe?
We try to enhance it. The space has a lot of history -- it's this grandiose mansion from the 1800s. It can be a little overwhelming at times for people that aren't expecting it. Our job is to bring a modern edge to the dining room. We have this old space with these old wooden panels and old artwork and gilded ceilings, and then when the plates hit the table, it's a contrast that people really aren't expecting. It brings you to the now.
What are the most romantic dishes on your menu?
One of the more romantic ways to dine at Gilt is just to come in and leave it up to us. Do the Chef's Grand Tasting with the wine pairings. If it's a special occasion, let us know well in advance, and we will definitely go above and beyond making sure that you have a wonderful time. The sommelier and I work really hard on our tasting menus and our wine pairings to give the guests a true journey through what Gilt has to offer. ... We definitely get a lot of proposals in here and we like to have fun with it.
What dictates the dishes that make it to the tasting menu?
The seasons, 100 percent. But it changes: A dish could be on the menu from anywhere from two weeks to three months -- it's really up to us. Something could still be in season, but if we see something else that we'd rather work with, that dish is done and we move on to the next one. But the seasons dictate everything that's on the menu at any given time. ... Dishes take a while to finalize. We'll work on a dish for a good week or two before it ever leaves the kitchen. There's a lot of detail behind it.
So after all that work, have you ever seen a proposal declined?
Um, yeah ... But they definitely ate well that night.