My Other Life: Monica Leiper, chef's shopper

Monica Leiper, nail tech. In her other life: chef's shopper.


“Last year I decided it was time to venture into something new and different,” says nail tech Monica Leiper, an educator, nail artist, and competitor who is currently a Jessica “nail cultivist.” “I believe you should be around what you enjoy. And I do love food — both preparing it and eating it.” It was this sound thinking that landed Leiper at Great-News!, a San Diego-area cookware store with a cooking school inside. “The chefs are recognized in their field and come mostly from local restaurants. Some are celebrated authors or TV personalities,” says Leiper, who is herself an excellent cook with a well-stocked kitchen. “We teach everything from knife skills to food basics to more elaborate seasonal or regional menus.”

Leiper’s official job title at Great News! is chef’s shopper. “I go about collecting what is needed for each of the chefs’ menu lists. I generally shop for four chefs per day, from four to five menus each,” she says. “I may go to as many as seven stores in a day, and depending on the quantities I buy or whether I have perishables, I make trips back to the school and unload and head back out for more.

“I often have to pick out produce of a particular ripeness or firmness and hand-count it. At times, I have to make a return, so the relationship I have with each vendor on my rounds is important,” she says. “At the register people are curious why I have so many separate purchases. When I let them know I shop for the cooking school it always sparks a great conversation.”  

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