“If I was going to eat meat, I needed to be able to kill it myself”: Former NY investment banker becomes a chef, buys a gun and learns to hunt for her own food
She is an established hunter and chef with a string of TV, book and blogging accolades behind her.
But for Georgia Pellegrini, 30, life was not always about the male-dominated world of guns, fresh braces of game birds and breaking dawns in dewy forests.
It was her time working as an investment banker, wearing suits and stilettos and hobnobbing with the well-heeled at Manhattan rooftop cocktail parties that made her sense there was more to work and life.
Shoot to kill: Former investment banker Georgia Pellegrini has turned away from the world of finance to the wild, buying a gun and learning to hunting for her own meat
Writing at Huffington Post, the glamorous blonde says “it was a life that nourished my bank account and never my soul, and I found myself watching the cafeteria dinner cart roll by night after night and thinking – this can”t be what I want for myself.”
The Manhattan private school girl whoshared lessons with Ivanka Trump at Chapin had segued effortlessly into WellesleyCollege and from there into a prestigious job at Lehman Brothers.
Putting the world of finance, bonuses and dollar signs behind her, essentially stepping away from the “path of least resistance,” the high-flyer threw in the towel, and signed up for the French Culinary Institute – alma mater to revered chefs Wylie Dufresne and Dan Barber – in SoHo.
Huntress: A long way from her city roots, the glamorous blonde is on a mission to feel more connected to the origins of the food and meats on her plate, pushing the slow food movement in the U.S.
Perhaps it was her childhood in the Hudson Valley, where she spent mornings fishing on her grandfather”s farm, but Ms Pellegrini writes that, upon being told she was going to kill a turkey for dinner at the stylish Blue Hill at Stone Barns restaurant where she then worked, she “quickly… thought, “If I”m going to be a chef, then I”m going to eat meat.” And if I was going to eat meat, I needed to be able to kill it myself.”
She was 24 at the time. As unlikely as it may have been, the pathway to hunting had been laid for the stylish city girl.
“Thatfirst turkey kill was emotional and intense; it awakened a dormant partof me – something primal, perhaps that original human instinct. It made a kind of sense I could feel deep within me, the kind that makes mewant to be a true omnivore,” she writes.
Al fresco: The chef has written a new cookbook detailing her journey from city to field, and has learnt to “pay the full karmic price for a meal”
“Inthat moment, I realized that while it was remarkable to meet the food artisans who brought ingredients into these high-end restaurants I worked at, it wasn”t enough for me. I wanted to take part in every part of the process, I wanted to pay the full karmic price of the meal. And so I set out to learn how to hunt.”
She describes her first hunt in Arkansas and watching a strutting turkey come into her sights.
The story: Girl Hunter by Georgia Pellegrini, published by Da Capo books, is out today
“In those moments, or minutes, or hours that I watched it unfold, my heart felt too large to fit into my chest, and a I could hear better than I ever had before, I could see better, I could smell better and my skin felt more alive.”
Taking aim, she recalls squeezing the trigger and hearing her shotgun”s barrel fire.
“It was a strange new cocktail of exhilaration and shame as I realized I”d missed. But I had been indoctrinated into a brave new world – I was becoming a hunter.”
Her world had morphed from champagne and tailoring into “camouflage-clad men drinking aged scotch in Styrofoam cups around a campfire on the banks of the Mississippi river, a brace of freshly plucked ducks at our feet.”
Certainly, the Sparkill, New York, native does not represent the average American hunter. She told the New York Post that she hopes her self-proclaimed girliness will serve her passion well: “When women see me not fitting that stereotype – I’m a girl and I’m very feminine – they will see hunting as more accessible.”
In an ad for Girl Hunter, her new cookbook, out today, Ms Pellegrini proudly states that “sometimes I”m a lady, sometimes I run with the boys.” A long way from the city, she declares that she is “an omnivore who has solved her dilemma.”
It was a dilemma that started among the gleaming skyscrapers of New York – and, via some top kitchens – entered the wild. It has also taken her into people”s homes, with a new TV show about her hunting and cooking exploits in the making.
“There are moments,” she writes on Huffington Post, “with a cloud of duck feathers floating in the air around me, that even I wonder how I got here.”