Team


Luke Venner

Luke brings his vision of casual and elegant dining to New Canaan, Connecticut. Highly skilled, yet refreshingly, modest – Venner joins elm from Manhattan twin hot spots, BLT Fish and BLT Steak. His award-winning cuisine has been featured in the New York Times, Gotham, Elle, Wine Spectator and the New York Post.

The chef was born and raised in Pierre, South Dakota and grew up surrounded by fields of wheat, fruit and flowers on his grandfather's farm. Today, a fourth-generation of Venners continue to oversee the agricultural production of the family farm.

After watching a young Daniel Boulud on the PBS series ‘Great Chefs, Great Cities’ Venner was inspired to pursue a career in the culinary arts. At the age of 18 he undertook a four-year European style apprenticeship with Fabrice Beaudoin at Restaurant Picasso in Vail, CO. Quickly ascending the ranks, the young chef went on to gain valuable kitchen experience from Napa Valley to the Big Apple, working alongside Michelin starred chefs such as Richard Reddington and Shaun Hergatt.

In 2012, Venner was invited by long time friend Tyler Anderson to be the opening ‘Chef de Cuisine’ at the James Beard Nominated Millwright’s Restaurant in Simsbury, Connecticut.

While overseeing the kitchen at BLT Fish, Venner became actively involved in promoting the advancement of youth farms, green markets and urban gardening education with growNYC. Venner brings a natural approach to the menu at elm, where the kitchen will offer dishes influenced by the culinary traditions of the North East, with imaginative nods to the travels that brought him here.
Kara Koehmstedt

Dining Room Manager and Pastry Chef Kara Koehmstedt came to the team at elm by way of NYC where she was the opening pastry sous chef of Enrique Olvera’s highly acclaimed progressive Mexican concept Cosme. During her time there the restaurant was awarded three stars from the New York Times and received a James Beard Nomination for best new restaurant.

Kara attended the Culinary Institute of America in New York and graduated in 2010 with a Bachelor of Professional Studies, Baking and Pastry Art Management. Soon after, she apprenticed with the then up and coming Chef Ghaya Oliveira at Bar Boulud in Manhattan where she refined her techniques even further.

In 2012, Kara made her homecoming to Chicago, Illinois where she held positions at the Peninsula Hotel and eventually Paul Kahan’s iconic one Michelin-starred restaurant, Blackbird.

Kara has transitioned to running the front of house where she enjoys working more closely with the guests and enhancing their experience.