Miami shopper Ashley M. is making her dreams come true as a contestant on Season 9 of MasterChef. Her journey from being a teacher to cooking with a world-renowned chef was not a simple one. On her way to discovering her passion in life, Ashley ultimately found that a little faith (and cilantro) can go a long way. Read about how Ashley became Gordon Ramsay’s mentee and learn to cook her favorite summer dish in this month’s #MyShiptStory.
From grading to groceries
Prior to Shipt I was an ESL and French teacher for about three years. It was a tough job and I couldn’t imagine doing it for the rest of my life – teaching just wasn’t my calling.
I was uncertain of what I should do next when someone wearing a green shirt in my local grocery store caught my eye. I had seen these bright green shirts before, but never questioned what they meant. I found myself walking up to this grocery shopper and asking, “What’s the deal with the spaceship?” I couldn’t believe what she told me next: she was getting paid to grocery shop.
I absolutely love grocery stores – the fresh produce, hundreds of options and friendly faces are comforting to me. So after I decided to leave my teaching job, I became a professional grocery shopper with Shipt. Now, not a single day goes by where I don’t love what I do. I don’t even know if I can call it “work” because grocery shopping makes me so happy.
Casual cook turned competitive
Ever since college, I’ve had a love for cooking. I hadn’t really thought anything of my skills until my friends continually asked me to cook for them! Cooking fresh food has always brought me happiness and has felt therapeutic. Throughout college and then into my teaching career, I turned to competitive cooking as a way to manage my stress.
I competed in different cooking contests during my three years of teaching, but only as a hobby. Then they progressively got bigger and bigger, until I was competing against real chefs. Eventually, I just knew I had to pursue my passion of being in the culinary industry. So in the same week that I quit my job and signed up for Shipt, I also auditioned for a competitive cooking show called MasterChef.
Master(Chef)ing a work/life balance
Yes, this professional grocery shopper is officially a contestant on Season 9 of MasterChef on Fox! It’s such an exciting time in my life and I can’t believe that one of the most famous chefs in the world is my mentor. I definitely think I have an advantage in this competition as a Shipt Shopper. I remember the first episode when I was in the pantry, I felt like I was home! Shopping for Shipt has taught me to remain calm under pressure, find the best groceries available and accurately fulfill an order – skills that I have definitely taken advantage of in the MasterChef pantry.
I wouldn’t be where I am today if I hadn’t quit my teaching job. You never know what opportunities will present themselves to you until you take the risk. Life is too short to not love what you do and I’m grateful to Shipt for creating a job that never feels like work.
Fun Facts with Ashley M.:
What’s your favorite section of the grocery store?
I love the produce section because you always know what local goods are in season.
What’s your grocery store impulse buy?
Whenever I’m Shipt Shopping, I always have to grab a yogurt to keep up my energy. When I shop for myself, I always have to buy fresh herbs, especially cilantro. Maybe it’s a Miami thing, but I can’t get enough cilantro! One of my favorite things about the MasterChef pantry is the assortment of microgreens they have. That has definitely stepped up the quality of my dishes throughout the show.
What’s your favorite summer recipe?
My favorite go-to summer recipe is definitely my pesto pasta salad. It’s super refreshing and delicious on a summer day – sometimes I’ll add creme fresh to the pesto (or yogurt for a healthier option) to give it a creamy texture.
Summer Pesto Pasta Salad
- 1- 6-8 oz. jar of pesto (or homemade)
- 1 cup crème fraîche or plain yogurt
- Salt, pepper and ground mustard
- 1 lb. Orecchiette pasta, cooked (or your favorite short noodle pasta)
- 1 rotisserie chicken
- 1 small bag of broccoli florets, steamed and chopped
- 1/4 cup chopped parsley
- Feta / Parmesan optional
- In a large bowl, mix together the pesto and the creme fraiche. PRO TIP: Save some pasta water and whisk in about 1/2 cup to loosen the dressing. Season with salt, pepper and ground mustard.
- With two forks, shred the chicken breasts. Reserve the rest of the rotisserie chicken for another meal.
- Add the pasta, chicken, broccoli and parsley to the bowl of pesto dressing. Toss everything together. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and ground mustard. PRO TIP: Season every layer – both the dressing and the finished salad.
Get these ingredients, and more at shipt.com.