The Acclaimed Girl Hunter Author, Chef, and
Adventure Host Shares Her Journey
Out of Finance and Into the Wild
My own excursions in Jackson Hole got me feeling like it might be time to reach out to Georgia. Wanting to learn a bit more about her food philosophy and life story, I caught up with her and got the inside scoop. Read on for a look at this woman entrepreneur’s unique life and business that’s all about great food, glamorous adventure, and empowering women of all ages. And don’t forget to keep scrolling for a delicious veggie-stuffed pumpkin recipe from Georgia’s kitchen.
A big component of what you do is hosting these epic adventures through the wild, inviting women to tune into another side of themselves. When did you first discover your own connection with nature?
GEORGIA: I am fortunate that I’ve always had a deep connection to the land. I grew up on the same land that my great grandfather lived on in Upstate New York. It’s been in my family for a hundred years. I would fish trout with my dad and eat it for breakfast. I’d go collect wild raspberries and paint with them. I learned math by knitting! So I grew up with dirt under my fingernails, but at the same time my parents sent me to really good schools. I commuted every day to the Chaffin school on the Upper East Side in Manhattan, wore my uniform and studied really hard, and then I went up to New England for college. By day I was at school with Ivanka Trump and by night I was shoveling chicken manure.
Without knowing your background, people might be surprised to learn you worked in finance. What was that experience like for you?
GEORGIA: I was really taking the path of least resistance. At the time I was leaving college, most graduates took really specific paths—they’d go into finance, consulting, law school, or graduate school. I think that’s changed, but back then I at least didn’t think there were many alternatives. So I got recruited into finance and worked at Lehman Brothers. It was an alluring thing for a young student to be offered money like that, but it didn’t end up making me happy.
Tell us about the moment you felt called to change your life.
GEORGIA: I remember looking at my excel spread sheet late into the night, watching the cart roll by in the cafeteria. It was a pretty uninspiring life for me at the time. When you’re doing something that doesn’t make you happy, it forces you to think about the moments that do. And for me the times that came to mind were the times when I was around food, cooking, and the land. So I took a leap of faith and quit my job. I went to Italy for a short time, then enrolled in culinary school in New York City. And the great joke is that I was working just as many long hours as I had been in banking, now making below minimum wage, but I loved it! It felt like it wasn’t work, it felt like it was what I was supposed to do with my life.
How did your writing career begin?
GEORGIA: Well after working at wonderful restaurants in New York, I went to work at a restaurant in the south of France—and it was there that my life sort of changed. I was living a completely opposite existence from my life in New York at my finance job. I was in a run-down house in the middle of nowhere with three green frogs living in my bathroom, and I was sleeping under a tablecloth I had taken from the restaurant. I loved it though. I was working long hours, but it was beautiful and unplugged. The great irony for me there is that it was while I was cooking in France that Lehman Brothers collapsed! During that time somebody forwarded something I had written to a literary agent in New York, and she asked if she could talk to me. So I took a bus to the nearest town, went to an internet café filled with screaming men playing cards, and got into a phone booth and called this agent. And that was how my first book was born. It was called Food Heroes, and it was about 16 people living in different parts of the world that had devoted their lives to preserving food traditions.
Where did you get the idea to start hosting wilderness retreats for women?
GEORGIA: My second book Girl Hunter was about my journey as a chef learning to hunt my own ingredients. After it was published, I started getting these e-mails in my inbox every morning that were really surprising to me at the time. Women were reaching out to me, sharing their vulnerabilities—what they were going through, what they desired—and telling me they thought I could help, that I could be the one to shepherd them through the process of feeling empowered again. I wasn’t really planning anything like that, but as an experiment I decided to host an adventure getaway for women only. The first one was five years ago and it has really snowballed since then. I have one next week in Wyoming, followed by another in Montana. What’s amazing to see is the strong, intelligent women it attracts, from all over the world—as far as South Korea!
How would you describe the transformation women experience on these trips?
GEORGIA: A lot of women have this desire to step outside their comfort zone and experience life more viscerally. I teach them to get their hands dirty. We do all of these things that are kind of scary for them—ATV rides through the mountains, horseback riding, fly fishing, hunting, whiskey tasting—and you see them get this fierce Amazonian look in their eye. A lot of them describe it as their “unraveling.” Of course it’s a lot of fun—we enjoy wonderful food and wine, and the women start forming a network of lifelong friends. For me personally it’s a really meaningful, inspiring experience.
What’s been your experience of building a brand around hunting when it can be such a controversial topic these days?
GEORGIA: The Editor at the publishing house that released my book Girl Hunter was actually a Vegan at that time. In our first conversation we realized we had the same stance on the industrial food system, which is what informed both of our dietary choices. The difference between us was that she realized she couldn’t pull the trigger, and I realized I could. For me it’s about treating your food with integrity all the way to the plate, and paying the full karmic price for the meal. It’s not that I identify as a hunter first, I came to it as a chef, as a means of being a more honest omnivore. I think because I’m able to tell that story in a meaningful way, and because I’m not your stereotypical hunter, I ended up being the right messenger for hunting today.
Amazing! What would you say is the most fulfilling part of your work right now?
GEORGIA: Right now, it’s the work I’ve started to do with young girls and young women. The more e-mails I’ve gotten from them the more I realize there is a need for young people to have better role models these days. The most satisfying thing for me is to be able to impact people’s lives in ways that are really meaningful and valuable. So while I continue to grow these adventure getaways for women, I think next summer I want to start a pioneering camp for young kids—teach them manual literacy, how to use their hands again, and give them a sense of empowerment. Kids today know how to use an iPhone but they don’t know how to peel a carrot—and I’m really excited to teach them how.
To book an Adventure Getaway with Georgia or to learn more about
the Girl Hunter, visit: georgiapellegrini.com
In her new book Georgia shows us how to unplug for a moment and get back in touch with our physical creativity. Reviving the skills of our grandparent’s generation, this savvy guide includes recipes, projects, and techniques for the modern city dweller. It’s all about slowing down and feeling confident in your own ability to create.
• 1 head garlic
• 1 3.0-pound pumpkin, 2 1.5-pound pumpkins or 4 1.0-pound pumkins
• salt and pepper
• 1 cup pancetta, diced
• 1 large leek, white and pale green parts only, thinly sliced
• 2 cups croutons or stale bread, cut into 1/4-inch cubes
• 1 cup freshly grated gruyere cheese, plus more for sprinkling at the end
• 1 tablespoon freshly picked thyme
• 1 teaspoon nutmeg, grated
• 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
• 1/2 cup heavy cream
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Cut the root and top end off of the garlic head, drizzle with olive oil, wrap in tin foil and roast in the pre-heated oven for about 1 hour, or until soft.
3. Cut a circle around the stem of the pumpkin and remove the lid. Cut the seeds off of the lid and scoop out the seeds from the inside of the pumpkin. Season the inside with salt and pepper.
4. In a medium-large saute pan over medium heat, brown the pancetta to release the fat. Add the leek and sweat until soft. Turn off the heat and let cool.
5. In a bowl, combine the croutons, cheese, thyme, nutmeg and smoked paprika. Once cooled, add the pancetta and leeks and mix to combine.
6. Remove the roasted garlic from the oven and squeeze the cloves out of the skins. Roughly chop and add to the mixture.
7. Fill the pumpkin with the stuffing mixture. Pour over the heavy cream, put the pumpkin lid back on, and place on a sheet tray covered with a rack or a silicone pad to prevent it from sticking.
8. Bake for 90 minutes, or until the pumpkin flesh is tender and easily pierced with a fork.
9. In the last 15 minutes of cooking, remove the lid from the pumpkin and top the stuffing with the extra grated gruyere. Return the pumpkin to the oven, keeping the lid on the side of the sheet tray so the cheese can brown and bubble.
10. Serve warm, sliced into fourths, in half, or as individual pumpkins depending on their size.