Elf Cafe’s Natural Wine Classes Come Complete with Upscale School Lunches

Maximum flavor, minimum technological intervention

“Elf is dedicated to natural wine because it’s just better,” says Astara Calas, co-owner of Echo Park’s Elf Cafe. “Wine that’s made without chemicals, minimal intervention, and natural yeasts is magical. It becomes the magical elixir that Plato drank.”

If you couldn’t tell, Elf is really into natural wines. In fact, it’s the only kind they’ve served since they nabbed a liquor license three years ago. It’s so integral to their ethos as a restaurant—”We serve clean sustainable food so why wouldn’t we serve clean sustainable wine as well?” asks Calas—that they’re kicking off their tenth anniversary with a month-long celebration of natural wines.

Starting next week, Elf will host a special natural wine event every Tuesday. The first installment is Natural Wine School, a 101 taught by house expert Joseph Harper that will touch on basics and origins, plus cover topics like native yeast, biodynamics, and organics. But it’s not all academics. Four pours—orange wine, two reds and a white, from some of Elf’s favorite winemakers will be served to lubricate the learning process. “Natural wine is a category without definition and it is our goal to open the discussion in Los Angeles,” says Harper. “We just want to talk about real wine.”

The second session on March 15 will be led by Lou Amdur of Lou Wine Shop & Tastings in Los Feliz (and also the writer of Los Angeles magazine’s Lou on Wine column), who will showcase his favorites in the category. The celebration will wrap up with a special dinner on March 22, which will pair chef David Martinez’ Mediterranean-influenced dishes with pours from Anna and David deLaski, the husband-and-wife winemaker team behind Solminer in Los Olivos.

The first two dates also include food from Martinez, who says he’s excited about the month-long celebration. “The food will have a real opportunity to shine with the wine that we love. Our kitchen will showcase Elf’s passion for exotic flavors and also the simplicity of our love for natural and sustainable ingredients,” says the chef. What Martinez describes as a playful take on school lunch will be served on Natural Wine School night while snacks from regions where natural wine originated will complement Amdur’s selections.

“We are really inspired to have an opportunity to spread our love for natural wine and give a taste of Elf’s unique take on cuisine for everyone to enjoy just as much as we love cooking it,” says Martinez.

Elf Cafe‘s Natural Wine Month takes place every Tuesday in March, starting next week, at 2135 Sunset Blvd., 213-484-6829. Check out the schedule online for times and details.