Chef and modern-day pioneer woman Georgia Pellegrini seemingly had it all. She was a successful college graduate working as an investment banker at Lehman Brothers, but something didn't feel quite right.
"I felt like a trained monkey could do what I was doing ... like I wasn't doing what I was meant to be doing," she told TheBlaze of her investment banking days. "I was craving a way to get back to my roots and to get back to where I came from."
So, Pellegrini, now 33, a graduate of Wellesley College and Harvard University, decided to leave behind her New York City banking job to become a chef, learning and practicing culinary arts in restaurants in the United States and abroad.
It was a decision that, at the time, posed some major risks. After all, leaving behind a high-paying and prestigious job while still in her early 20s wasn't easy, though Pellegrini said that it was the right decision.
"I think it's a little scary as a young person to take risks ... but looking back at it, I'm glad I did make the change," she said. "[I was working at] Lehman Brothers and, as we know, Lehman Brothers didn't survive."
Pellegrini, an avid hunter who has written numerous blogs and books about cooking and pioneer skills, described the initial impact of her decision.
"I went from making a lot of money and working a lot of hours to making below minimum wage," she said, noting, though, that her happiness greatly increased. "What was interesting for me is, it didn't feel like work in the same way."
Despite struggling financially, Pellegrini, a Sparkill, New York, native who now resides in Austin, Texas, said her restaurant work just "felt so right," as it was a career that she was immensely passionate about.
Before long, her work as a chef led her to seek more information about the food she was cooking and consuming; she soon became a hunting aficionado with a deep interest in "living off the land" and in following and tracking her food from the woods to her kitchen.
Pellegrini has since built a career as a well-known TV personality, author, chef and pioneer skills trainer who regularly equips urban women to learn important and intriguing life skills.
"I wake up excited everyday and I get to interact with people who consume what I do and love what I do," she told TheBlaze. "I feel like I'm adding to peoples' lives in a meaningful way."
Pellegrini said that her journey into the world of media began after she started chronicling and blogging about her experiences as a chef. She has since penned books, made TV appearances and trained people to learn the very same skills that have transformed her life.
Modern-day pioneer Georgia Pellegrini left investment banking to live off the land (Georgia Pellegrini)
Unlike some other chefs and food personalities, Pellegrini hunts, skins, prepares and cooks her food, truly experiencing the full effect of what it takes for meals to actually reach her plate.
"The hunting became sort of a big part of my life as a chef the more I did it," Pellegrini said. "From the very first time until today it's always an emotional, intense experience."
In addition to offering up delicious foods to eat, she said that hunting "makes us better human beings" and "more conscious of the world around us."
What sets Pellegrini apart from other chefs like her, she says, is the fact that she doesn't necessarily fit the profile of someone who would stereotypically be an avid hunter and pioneer woman.
"I was coming from having gone to high school in New York City and coming from these places and educational institutions where you don't expect to meet hunters," she said. "I really was a girl who was curious. I was earnest about my curiosity and seeing these areas where I didn't know much — and I think that got a lot of peoples' attention."
As a proponent of living off the land, Pellegrini, who despite her New York City roots grew up in a family that has a deep history of using natural resources, said that she's a big fan of self-sufficiency, even for those who live in urban areas.
"You can literally grow 25 pounds of potatoes on a fire escape, you can grow amazing herbs on your window sill," she said. "You can make your own butter in 15 minutes — you can do it in a mason jar. You can make fresh mozzarella in 30 minutes."
Pellegrini builds upon her commentary and media appearances by hosting "adventure getaways" — intimate events during which a group of around 20 women are taught to live off the land. She'll host an event in October during which women will learn how to use a shotgun, among other skills.
"They'll learn how to hunt, they'll learn how to clean an animal from scratch ... and then they're going to learn how to cook that bird and eat it," Pellegrini told TheBlaze. "It's a very physical weekend."
Find out more about Pellegrini here.