Welcome to the Hey Eleanor Podcast, episode four. This week, I’m talking to one of the most fearless people I know.
Georgia Pellegrini is a chef, hunter, writer and has really good hair to boot.
Georgia & I have known each other for quite some time on the internet, but we met in person a few years ago at Austin Food & Wine. After a couple of bourbons, I told her I’d always wanted to try hunting. She invited me to go with her in Arkansas that fall. Little did she know that I never say no to a cool opportunity. Maybe she was just being polite, but too bad, ’cause I said yes. So we went, and she guided me through my first hunt, where I ended up having to kill a dove with my bare hands, and I sobbed the entire time.
Georgia never made me feel like less of a hunter because I cried. Quite the contrary—she showed me that there’s room for emotion and femininity in hunting. On today’s podcast, we talk about that, plus what it’s like to leave a fancy Wall Street job to follow your passion.
Here’s an excerpt.
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Molly: So I wanted to talk to you today because you’re one of the most fearless bad-ass babes I know. I don’t even know where to start the conversation because I feel like it infiltrates every aspect of your life. The logical place to start would be…. tell me about how you quit your fancy job in finance and started a following your passion.
Georgia: I call it drop the mic and walk away. It’s not even quitting, I’m just gonna drop the mic and walk away. It was maybe 10 years ago? Is that even possible? Am I aging myself suddenly? Yeah, best thing I ever did. Scary as hell, but I’ve always kind of leaned into the fear of things. Something scares me I tend to kinda digg into it. It’s weird, it’s like how I mentally cope with it.
Molly: Have you always been that way?
Georgia: Yeah, in certain aspects of my life. In my work, and with life in general. I roll up my sleeves and lean into something that scares me. I want to look it in the eye and stare it down. So I guess I did that with my career.
Molly: And what were you doing exactly?
Georgia: I was working on the trading floor of Lehman Brothers for what felt like a lot of money for a fresh out of college student. I was living the New York life where everything is sort of glossy and fancy and everything is in abundance and excess… I’m one of those people who is hard to chain down. I start to resent when I feel stifled or a tethered, I suppose. I flee sometimes and a colorful or explosive way.
Molly: Is that how you left that job?
Georgia: I was actually very strategic about it. Actually, there was kind of a little bit of controversy. Since Lehman Brothers went under, now I can actually say it because there’s no one there to get mad at me. They tried to bully me into staying. I waited for my bonus at the end of the year to clear my bank account. I remember checking my bank account and getting up from my chair and walking over to the HR guy and being like, Hey can I talk to you? I’m leaving…
This higher-up woman tried to get me to pay back my signing bonus from when I started working there, which was so slimy. She tried to act like I’d been there a year minus one day and I owed them the measly little signing bonus that they gave me to move to New York after college. I think I responded by CCing the CEO or something… and then that ended the conversation… the way I framed it was, listen. You can let me walk the right way now and I will leave with a good taste in my mouth and remember you all fondly, or we can make this really ugly. Your choice. Bye! And moving forward, you can reach me at my Gmail address.
Molly: So, you marched out the door with your Gmail address and then what did you do?
Georgia: I went to Italy. I took my brother with me, who is four years younger and had never been out of the country. I wanted a travel companion and I had this end-of-the-year bonus money.
Molly: That’s a good sister.
Georgia: Yeah, he owes me big-time. I hope he listens to this. So I traveled to Italy for four weeks and came back and started contemplating life. I started reading a lot and started thinking about what I was doing life when I’m most happy. The silver lining when you’re doing something you hate is that it forces you to think about the moments of life when you’re doing things that make you happy.
[For me], it has always been food and cooking and nature being outdoors… I am very fortunate that my family lived at Tulipwood, a place my great-grandfather bought over 100 years ago. I grew up living a very nature girl lifestyle. Which really is a blessing, it’s not that often people have that kind of access anymore.
I needed to find a way to get back to that. I grew around amazing food and great aunts and grandmothers who knew the names of everything that was growing, even in the wild. So, I just wanted to get back to that. And I was reading a lot of books in the food space, especially food writers. I remember reading a book by Amanda Hesser, and thought, wow I want to have this life.
I decided to leave my Wall Street job behind and dive headfirst into culinary school, where I was spending a lot of money and was going to turn around and make $10 an hour, with no health insurance and work 18-hour days… but I think you need to find something that you can’t not do. You have no choice. It’s one of those things that’s so in your DNA that there’s nothing else you could possibly do. When you’re at that stage with something, you find a way to make it work.
WANT MORE? LISTEN TO THE PODCAST FOR THE REST OF THE INTERVIEW.
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OTHER STUFF I TALKED ABOUT THIS WEEK:
A recap of the Hey Eleanor Mystery Bus Ride.
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