pastry chef’s bio

Pastry Chef Kara Koehmstedt is the latest edition 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’s earliest and fondest memories of food can be traced back to her mother’s family parties in her hometown of Chicago. Growing up in a large family, gatherings were often grand and always prepared by hand. Eager to participate at a very early age, Kara began to learn the craft of rolling and decorating cookies, preparing pie fillings, and baking layers of cake that would eventually become birthday surprises. By age fifteen 15, she had already decided that her aspiration would be that of a pastry chef.

Kara went on to attend 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 seamlessly joined the Elm team and enjoys being able to create desserts that are approachable yet exciting for the guests.

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