MOST CHEFS STOCK UP at Whole Foods or the butcher down the street. But not Georgia Pellegrini! This former Wall Streeter-turned-chef goes right to the source--and then hunts and butchers it herself. Now that's what we call "local"! She documents her food philosophy in her latest book, Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing The Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time.
Born and raised in New York State, Pellegrini tried her hand at the investment game, but quickly cashed out to pursue her real calling--food. "I wanted to do something more creative and more about where I come from--which is a family that loves cooking and living off the land," she explains.
After graduating culinary school, Pellegrini worked in France and NYC at various fine-dining outposts. But something was still missing. "As life becomes more fast-paced, we lose sight of our natural human instincts and where we come from," she says. "Our relationship with food becomes totally disconnected. Being a chef, I want to understand every facet of food."
So, she swapped her stilettos for rubber boots and a rifle. Over the course of a year, which she would later document in Girl Hunter, Pellegrini killed, cut and cooked her own meals. As she explains, "Humans are omnivores; we are hunters and gatherers at our core. So hunting makes you feel more awake as a human being."
But losing your hunting virginity shouldn't be taken lightly. Pellegrini's first hunt took place in the Arkansas Delta, where she set out to tag a wild turkey. "The first kill is an emotionally intense moment," she says. "It's powerful. But it also feels very natural and normal. It's in our DNA and it's how humanity got to where we are today."
And what of those activists who decry hunting as cruel to animals? Pellegrini would argue the exact opposite. "I treat animals with integrity, unlike the inhumane treatment they often receive at corporate-run farming operations, in which chickens are bred so big they can't walk and pigs lose tails because they are so crammed into pens."
"For me, it's about an animal having lived a full life in the wild, acknowledging it had a soul and killing it cleanly without suffering. There is an intrinsic spirituality to it," she explains, "You don't get that when you grab a pack of boneless, skinless chicken breasts at the grocery store."
Pellegrini also points to the purity of the process: "I can make sure the meat is pure--that there is nothing added. It also makes you think about what you're eating and what that animal ate and how it changes the taste of the meat." And unlike mass-produced meat, Pellegrini and her like-minded hunters ensure there is nothing wasted--every organ gets used.
Through her year of hunting, fishing and foraging, Pellegrini also shot down some stereotypes about hunters. She's a self-professed girly-girl who loves her lip gloss and Louboutins--who also happens to tote a rifle.
"I can wear lipstick but I can also shoot a deer and cook it for my family. Hunting shouldn't be reserved for middle-aged men or boy's weekends," she states. "But it isn't a sport for me. It's about food. It's a more honest approach to being an omnivore and a human being."
Click here for one of Georgia's favorite recipes, Buttermilk Fried Rabbit.
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