Home » World Eats —On Location Dining With Kurt And Bart

World Eats —On Location Dining With Kurt And Bart

by Jeff Heilman
Kurt and Bart (Photo by Mr Means Corp)

With productions more globalized than ever, they regularly decamp, often for months at a time, across the country and around the world.

Kurt And Bart (Photo by Mr Means)

Marking 40 years of collaboration in 2023, New York City-based costume designers Kurt and Bart (instagram.com/kurtandbart2) have created powerful, often career-defining images for some of the biggest names in fashion, film, and music.

Taking their signature visual sensibility from an avant-garde streetwear line in the 1980’s to a raucous styling career in the 1990’s to designing costumes for the big screen since the early 2000’s, they are visual storytellers.

From partnering with iconic image making fashion photographers Steven Klein, Patrick Demarchelier, and Herb Ritts to styling music legends David Bowie, Courtney Love, and Ozzy Osbourne, the duo has dressed the best. Their star-making persona for Britney Spears was instrumental in catapulting her to global fame.

Collaborations with auteur filmmakers include preeminent South Korean director Park Chan-wook on his 2013 English-language debut Stoker and director Francis Lawrence on the concluding Hunger Games installments, Mockingjay Part 1 (2014) and Part 2 (2015). For Dallas Buyers Club (2013), Kurt and Bart indelibly brought Matthew McConaughey’s and Jared Leto’s characters to the screen in their Oscar-winning turns.

With productions more globalized than ever, they regularly decamp, often for months at a time, across the country and around the world.

“Being on location is immersive and immediate,” said Bart. “From day one, it’s about new landscapes, new faces, and new food.” Their global epicurean excursions are an essential part of what they do. “Filmmaking is collaborative by nature, and our experiences working with incredibly talented local crews all over the world have been nothing short of amazing,” said Kurt. “It’s also just the two of us much of the time, solving problems, bringing characters to life—and discovering local food culture.” From New Mexico to New Zealand, here are some of the highlights from their on location dining sizzle reel.

How do you decide where to eat?
KURT: We always get recommendations from the local crew or Google. Honestly though, some of the best meals end up being places we stumble upon.

BART: New Orleans is a good example. Based there for Dallas Buyers Club, we discovered Bacchanal Wine (600 Poland Avenue, New Orleans. Tel: 504-948-9111. bacchanalwine.com) while bicycling around the Bywater District. Located across from an abandoned Navy complex by Mississippi River levees and piers, you enter through a little “deli” that is actually a well-stocked wine shop into a sprawling open-air backyard. Go at night for the transporting atmosphere of lights and live music. Order at the counter, find a seat, and listen for your number. We had gazpacho, grilled broccoli, French fries, and super cold white wine. It’s funky, low-fi, and delicious.

Raw Chu-Toro Blue Fin Tuna in Mexico City (Photo by Vorason)

Raw Chu-Toro Blue Fin Tuna in Mexico City (Photo by Vorason)

KURT: It can also be a hot restaurant in a cool neighborhood, like Meroma (Colima 150, Roma Norte. Tel: +52-55-5920-2654. meroma.mx) in Mexico City’s trendy Roma Norte district. While there on a recent commercial shoot for a major U.S. brand, we spent most of a hot day inside the massive La Lagunilla Market. It was one of my most intense shopping experiences ever. We then made our way to the more curated shops in shady Roma Norte, and despite not having a reservation we luckily snagged a table at Meroma.

BART: Meroma is pretty dreamy. The design, atmosphere, and service are elevated but laidback. The tapa of grilled blue shrimp marinated with chili crunch was the best bite of our stay. It was like a Mexican version of crispy rice. We also loved the raw chu-toro blue fin tuna, marinated in white miso and accompanied by Japanese citrus kosho chili paste, smoked shiitake mushrooms, and roasted hoja santa herbs. Unpretentious, delicious, and easy on the eye, we’d certainly go back.

Speaking of which, how far do you spread your dining wings while on location?
BART: We frequently lock on to favorites, especially on longer hauls. When filming postapocalyptic Finch (2021) with Tom Hanks in New Mexico, we ate regularly at family-owned Cocina Azul (4243 Montgomery Blvd NE, Albuquerque. Tel: 505-831-2600. cocinaazulabq.com). Nothing fancy, but I could eat their huevos rancheros, served in homemade tortillas and smothered in New Mexico’s signature red and green chiles, or as they call it, “Christmas-style,” every day.

Homemade Huevos Rancheros in Albuquerque (Photo by Lecker Studio)

Homemade Huevos Rancheros in Albuquerque (Photo by Lecker Studio)

KURT: Proximity often plays a part. Located around the corner of the Grand Hyatt Berlin, Viet Bowl (Marlene-Dietrich-Platz 1, Berlin. Tel: 30-2593-1200. vietbowl.de/locationpotsdamer-platz) fuses Vietnamese cuisine, which is widespread in Berlin, with Japanese sushi. There’s an open kitchen, rustic wood interiors, and long communal tables. We ate there at least three nights a week while shooting Apple+ TV ‘s Foundation. The tofu bun nam bo with bird’s eye chile peppers and vermicelli is the dish.

BART: We also shot a big chunk of Mockingjay Part 1 in Berlin, where you can’t go without shopping at Vivenne Westwood’s Worlds End shop. There are a handful of Vietnamese and noodle shops right there and we always ended up at authentic Saigon street food joint District Môt (Rosenthaler Str. 62. Tel: +49-302-008-9284. district-mot.com). I love to eat spicy and sour in hot weather and went with their spicy papaya salad and catfish bun.

Spicy Papaya Salad in Berlin (Photo by Natalia Hanin)

Spicy Papaya Salad in Berlin (Photo by Natalia Hanin)

What are some of the most unique and distinctive spots you’ve discovered?
BART: Shopping is part of the job, so yeah, shopping and eating is a theme. While on location in Paris for Mockingjay Part 2, we explored the well-curated fashion and home goods store Merci, where in-store The Used Book Café (111 Boulevard Beaumarchais, Paris 3. merci-merci.com) feels like one big Instagram post. They did amazing avocado toast way before it conquered the world, along with coffee, vegetarian bites, and bistro classics.

KURT: Locations for Ghost in the Shell (2017) with Scarlett Johannsen included Wellington, New Zealand, or “Wellywood,” where we worked out of Peter Jackson’s Stone Street Studios and brunched several times at Spruce Goose (30 Cochrane Street, Rongotai, Wellington. sprucegoose.net.nz). Located right by Wellington Airport’s terrifyingly short landing strip, this all-day restaurant is a front row seat for experiencing the miracle of aviation over delicious dishes like the wellness bowl with crispy chickpeas and roast pumpkin. My friend’s niece couldn’t shut up about the waffles with maple bacon and bananas. And New Zealand knows how to do coffee.

On-location near the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Photo by Catarina Belova)

On-location near the Eiffel Tower in Paris (Photo by Catarina Belova)

BART: Popular with Wellywooders, The Larder (133 Darlington Road, Miramar, Wellington. Tel: +64-4891-0354. thelarder.co.nz) kept us happy for lunch at least once a week during that shoot. They do fish right with their fresh, simple, and perfectly prepared catch of the day, along with rotating salads such as quinoa with sweet potato.

KURT: The production then shifted from wet and windy wintertime Wellywood to sweltering Hong Kong. One day we shot on the street with the cast and loads of extras in costume. It was gridlocked with crowds of onlookers. Having to footitto the next location, we ducked inside izakaya-style Okinawan restaurant EN Tsim Sha Tsui (1/F, Golden Dragon Centre, 38-40 Cameron Road, Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon. Tel: 3428-2500. en.com.hk/main/index.php/tst-en) for a quick bite and cold drink. It was one of those lucky stumbles.

BART: Oh yeah. On that million-degree day, the ice-cold chunky raw cabbage with chili oil dressing, tuna sashimi with ponzu, and iced bancha tea were heaven-sent. The Okinawan tofu that tasted like peanut butter was better than it may sound and you can sit tatami- or Western-style as you prefer.

KURT: Don’t forget the cold summer dashi and other dishes at Mutsukari (5-5-19, Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo. Tel: +81-3-5568-6266. gc4j501.gorp.jp/) in Tokyo.

BART: Yet another tasty Ghost in the Shell memory. We were joined by our long-time friends Hanayo Nakajima, a former geisha, and wildly talented textile designer Reiko Sudo, both collaborators with us on the film. Prepared by Buddhist monks in an open kitchen, the elegant seasonal vegetarian menu was made more delicious by the level of care they gave to the dishes.

Are there some other special places you’d like to share with us?
KURT: Our longtime love affair with the Catskill Mountains of New York includes our first movie project, 2006 Sundance Film Festival winning indie Stephanie Daley. The principal photography was in Tannersville and surrounding mountain towns, which put us within driving distance of an old friend, Brio’s Pizzeria & Restaurant (68 Main Street. Tel: 845-688-5370. brios.net) in nearby Phoenicia.

BART: Brio’s never disappoints. Maybe it’s the brick oven or the sesame seed-encrusted edge, but just go ahead and order the Margherita pie. With tomato, fresh mozzarella, and little pools of pesto on perfectly charred and bubbly thin crust, it’s one of my all-time favorite pizzas.

KURT: For Finch, Hotel Chaco (2000 Bellamah Ave. NW. Tel: 505-246-9989. hotelchaco.com) in Old Town Albuquerque was our first home away from home while looking for longer-term housing. The hotel’s rooftop restaurant and lounge, Level 5, was fantastic, from the views of the surrounding New Mexico landscape to the menu. We had many great brunches and dinners there. I especially remember the Chilean sea bass with risotto and the eggplant “steak” marinated with balsamic and basil.

Level 5 Patio at Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Photo by Nick Merrick)

Level 5 Patio at Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque, New Mexico (Photo by Nick Merrick)

BART: Another Parisian favorite while filming Mockingjay Part 2 was Hanoi (41 Rue Sainte-Croix de la Bretonnerie, Paris. Tel: +33-1-42-742-048) in the super gayborhood of Marais. The interiors are sharp, the waiters are smartly dressed, and the Vietnamese food, such as our fresh spring rolls and mock duck red curry, was seriously delicious and respectably spicy.

KURT: A bonus was checking out one man’s singular vision of the future of fashion at the Pierre Cardin Musee around the corner. Marais also has a great retail and bar scene. What’s your next big adventure in film?

BART: If we told you we’d have to vanish you, but our latest project in the can is a modern re-imagining of The Crow, with Bill Skarsgård in the title role and aiming for a 2024 release.

I love The Crow franchise, especially the original. Where was the filming?
KURT: Mainly in wonderland Prague, which has evolved as a filming destination over the last two-plus decades. We were there for seven months.

BART: The food scene is amazing. Located in Prague’s 13th century Malá Strana, or Lesser Town, Café Savoy (Vítězná 5, 150 00 Prague 5, Malá Strana. Tel: +42-0-731-136-144. cafesavoy.ambi.cz/en) is a great vantage point for sitting outside and drinking superb gin and tonics while watching people cross the landmark Most Legií, or Legion Bridge.

KURT: Across the street, Sushi Bar (Zborovská 49, Prague 5, Malá Strana. Tel: +42-0-603-244-882. sushi.cz) is an intimate spot for great sushi and service. The chef always offered us something new to taste, from fried fish to sashimi to fresh pickles. We always felt taken care of and never left hungry.

BART: Cooking for ourselves is a great way to feel at home while on location. Prague was exceptional in that regards, with fantastic farmers markets and incredible stores like The Italians (Strakonicka 948/1. Tel: +42-0-733-338-650 theitalians.cz). We called it the O.G. Eataly for its near pornographic selection of Italian provisions, from fresh-delivered regional breads to cheese, olives, wines, and more. We often cooked their incredibly fresh fish at the apartment. Or, had it cooked to order and ate there elbow to elbow with locals at bustling communal tables. Nothing beats local flavor.

Bruce the Goose in Wellington New Zealand (Photo by Spruce Goose)

Bruce the Goose in Wellington New Zealand (Photo by Spruce Goose)

KURT: That’s exactly why we love this aspect of our work. While we may not remember every moment from long filming days, dining out creates a lasting memory of place.

BART: We can’t talk about food and location without mentioning the on-set caterers around the world. Keeping the entire crew well-fed is no small task, but these incredible cooks and chefs do it with pride while showcasing local produce and cuisine.

KURT: It’s true. From amazing restaurants and generous catering teams to cooking for ourselves using local produce and goods, we have many unforgettable food souvenirs.

BART: Smell may be the strongest memory evoker, but for me it’s food. Now I’m hungry!

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