All Articles
All Articles

Becca Punch of The Musket Room, NYC


Becca Punch of The Musket Room, NYC

The young pastry chef walks us through a few of her favorite desserts

by Hans Aschim
on 17 June 2014

Just a few blocks from the perpetually busy corner of Houston and Lafayette in NYC's SoHo neighborhood lies a tranquil outpost for New Zealand cuisine that channels the calm reserve of the island nation. Just four months after opening in October, 2013 The Musket Room was awarded a Michelin star. Since then, the awards have continued come in and the restaurant—with native Kiwi Matt Lambert at the helm—has not stopped pushing its New Zealand cuisine further, impressing diners and critics along the way.


The latest addition to the team is head pastry chef Becca Punch (formerly of the renowned Eleven Madison Park). The Musket Room is one of a growing number of fine dining destinations that is giving its dedicated staff free and full creative reign over the sweets. "This is my first pastry chef job, so it's really fun to take all of the ideas I've been storing up and hash them out onto plates," Punch says. "When something new comes into season, you get all these ideas, you start to get inspired again—and yes, summer's the best time." Though Punch isn't herself from New Zealand, her Montana upbringing means nature and seasonal ingredients are near and dear to her just like her Kiwi colleagues. Punch took us through a few of her favorites from the current menu.


The optimal way to experience The Musket Room's cuisine is through its tasting menu—the meal takes on a sort of narrative and each course blends seamlessly into the next, complementing what precedes and succeeds each flavor. The Spring Pea Cremeux acts as a transition between the last savory courses and more rich, decadent desserts. "I love the freshness of peas in the late spring and summer, and it pairs really well with the lychee—they're both subtle, softer flavors," Punch says. A mint jam adds a serious pungent kick to the softness of the pea and lychee, "The jam is made from mint in our garden; all the plants we use from the garden is always lot stronger than the stuff that we buy, just because you go out and pick it then use it right away."


A rarity for NYC restaurants (especially in Manhattan), The Musket Room sources a fair amount of its herbs and garnishes from its own backyard. "Having the garden is definitely a blessing," Punch says of the season inspiration steps from the kitchen. But getting the most out of the produce requires a bit of diligence. "You need to pay attention to the plants—you want to pick everything in its peak, or else it goes to waste."


Kiwis will attest, that there's no dessert more traditionally New Zealand than pavlova. The meringue-based dessert was originally named for a visiting Russian ballerina has become a fixture in both Kiwi and Australian cuisine since the 1920s. Traditionally paired with strawberries and cream, Punch adds a touch of passionfruit for an unexpected zing. "We've taken our pavlova apart in two shapes," Punch says. "I really like making cylinders and I like it because it kind of looks like a styrofoam cup spilling strawberries." The meringue is baked at a low temperature to achieve crispiness on the outside and marshmallowy softness on the inside. It's then garnished with flower petals from the garden. Of working in a Kiwi kitchen, Punch says there's a more straightforward attitude towards criticism. "They say it to your face, then you move on. It's done, it's been said and we're back to work."


Balancing rich chocolate with tropical fruits, Punch's coconut vanilla pudding with tapioca is a nod to bubble tea in dessert form. Aerated chocolate and dark chocolate compliments the creaminess of the pudding while bursts of tangy mango and passionfruit come from the colorful tuile atop the dessert (which Punch nostalgically describes as "Fruit Roll-Up-like"). "I never really considered chocolate and tropical fruit to be a thing until I worked with a chef from Seoul Korea," Punch says, "It was a whole new world of flavor combinations for me so this is a test in that theory." Beneath the puddling is a hidden sphere of mango sauce, that adds a playful note of fruitiness to the dessert.

A true sweet tooth at heart, Punch explains her approach towards desserts and how they relate to the rest of the meal succinctly. "You eat a meal for sustenance, but you have dessert for fun." There's a clear sense of playfulness in the young chef's desserts, from the plating to the surprises flavors that lie in wait. "Desserts are not just sweet for your palate, but for your spirit and your eyes and something that should really cheer you up," Punch adds. Needless to say, when visiting The Musket Room, be sure to save room.

Photos by Hans Aschim

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public
Loading More...