Chef Marko Ellinger has been reinventing his culinary innovation for over thirty years to the delight of international audiences and noted celebrities. As a performance artist, cookbook author, television personality and contemporary chef, Marko promotes strategies with nutrient-dense foods that are cost effective, environmentally sustainable, highly nutritious, visually engaging, and absolutely delicious. He studied as an advanced student with John Ash at the Culinary Institute of America and was asked to be the private chef for Kevin Spacey while Spacey was filming in Austin. Marko most recently completed a cooking assignment for Dr. Oz and his extended family in Maine. He is currently transitioning as the Executive Chef at Balcones Springs to be The Culinary Education Specialist at Travaasa, offering nutritional cooking demonstrations for our guests. Marko is also a faculty member at The Natural Epicurean Academy and a member of the International Association of Culinary Professionals.

Pumpkin Polenta
Indulge yourself in this pumpkin treat, courtesy of the Chef himself: The Chefs in the kitchen at Travaasa are excited about squash season! Our farm brings us some fantastic choices including Blue Hubbard Squash and Pumpkins. These jewels are high in vitamin A, C, E and B-6. They are also a significant source of calcium and potassium while the seeds are loaded with tryptophan. I like using roasted pieces when I make a batch of polenta for a sweeter flavor profile.
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
25 min
  1. 1 medium pumpkin
  2. 1 T. olive oil
  3. 1 diced onion
  4. 4 cloves minced garlic
  5. 1 cup fresh corn
  6. 1 tsp. of your favorite chili powder. (Marko suggests Guajillo.)
  7. 2-3 cups vegetable stock
  8. pinch of saffron (optional)
  9. 1 cup minced flat leaf parsley
  10. 1 T. fresh thyme
  11. 1 cup chopped scallions
  12. 1 tsp. salt
  13. grated parmesan
  14. toasted pepitas
  1. Remove the skin of your pumpkin and cut 2 cups of ½ inch pieces. Coat with small amount of olive oil and a touch of salt. Stage pumpkin on a baking sheet and roast at 400 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until tender. Remove from oven.
  2. Sweat the onions in a sturdy stockpot on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add corn, garlic, chili powder and a pinch of salt and cook for another 3-4 minutes.
  3. Pour in 2 cups of vegetable stock (Use additional stock for a creamier consistency.)
  4. Cook on low heat for at least 10 minutes, constantly whisking to avoid burning at the bottom of the pot. (Use a wooden spoon to scrape the build up at the base of your stockpot. Add more veggie stock to loosen consistency if needed. Add salt to taste.)
  5. Serve polenta in a deep dish and finish with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan and toasted Pepitas.
Recipe provided courtesy of
  1. Chef Marko Ellinger
  2. Culinary Education Specialist
  3. Travaasa Experiential Resorts
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