Performing arts is part of Fernando Messulam’s life. Originally from Rosorio in Argentina, he used to live in front of the city’s Opera House. His mother was a ballet dancer, as were all his nannies.
Unsurprisingly, he too entered the arts, but in a less traditional discipline – breakdancing. Later, while auditioning for a musical, he discovered he was able to sing opera as a tenor.
But alongside artistic ambitions, he started catering and managed a café located inside the Opera House. His waiters were mimes and there was a tap dancer at the bar. It was “quite a bohemian gathering”, he says. “Beyond food it was about the social experience.”
It is this experience that Messulam decided to reproduce in London. Since last year, he has managed De La Panza, an Argentine steakhouse on Southgate Road. He tries to be different but not “mechanically different”, preserving the local feel of the restaurant alongside the kind of vibe you might find in an Argentine bodega.
Music is a big part of this, and once a month on a Sunday musicians gather to play and sing. “Cinderella here is the Opera” he insists. “It is not rehearsed, there are no numbers. We all know what we are doing, so we just bring it on!”
The next Opera Day is on 27 April when Messulam will be accompanied by tenor Yuri Sabatini and Orpheus Papafilippou on violin. The event will last from 2-7pm and people are welcome to stay all afternoon, as if they were in their own living room. “The only thing is that they don’t have the keys!” he quips.
De La Panza
105 Southgate Rd, N1 3JS