Latin America

The sister spicing up Mexican ‘MasterChef’

67-year-old nun’s traditional dishes have captivated viewers of TV cooking contest

Sister Florinda Ruiz during an episode of ‘MasterChef.’
Sister Florinda Ruiz during an episode of ‘MasterChef.’FACEBOOK

She is known as the “wonder nun,” and more than once she has been saved by a miracle from being eliminated from Mexico’s version of TV cooking contest MasterChef.

Nevertheless, Sister Florinda Ruiz has captivated both audiences and judges with not only her seasonings but, according to her opponents, also her charm during this first Mexican edition of the reality show.

The 67-year-old nun decided to participate in the program, which has different versions around the world, in the hope that she might win money to help her congregation pay off a bank debt.

Sister Flor wants to win money to help her congregation pay off a bank debt for a new school

The Sisters of the Passion of Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows owe seven million pesos (about $420,000) relating to the construction of a new school. Even though the grand prize is only one million pesos ($60,000), it will be enough for now to satisfy the bank’s unyielding demands.

Sister Flor’s perseverance has paid off – she is now one of the last six chefs remaining on the show.

With her beaming smile and black habit, Sister Flor auditioned for MasterChef México by preparing a simple desert made with chayote, a popular local kind of squash, using a recipe from her convent.

But it was her three-meat specialty with dried chili sauce that secured her position as one of the finalists.

It was her three-meat specialty with her dried chili sauce that secured her position as one of the finalists

“To me, the love I have for God is comparable to the love I have for cooking,” she said during one of the recent episodes.

Florinda Ruiz is in charge of the kitchen at the Palafoxiano Convent in Puebla, a city in central Mexico known for its spicy dishes, such as mole poblano (turkey, chicken or other meat served in a dark sauce) and chile en nogada (stuffed chili peppers).

The other contestants know they have little chance of competing with her when it comes to making dishes from Puebla.

“I think you made a pact with the devil,” said Chef Beatriz Vázquez, one of the judges, when Sister Flor served up her tinga de pollo (shredded chicken) accompanied with a rice-with-vegetables side dish.

As the judges devoured the contents of the plate, Sister Flo asked them to stop mentioning Satan.

“I think you made a pact with the devil,” said one of the judges after she tasted one of the nun’s dishes

The producers have taken advantage of the nun’s friendly and serene personality to ease tensions during the most critical parts of the kitchen competition. Some contestants have complained that the judges have given more consideration to the nun than the others.

But Sister Flor was nearly eliminated after she served up one of her sauces after time had run out.

In a country where 80 percent of the population is Catholic, Sister Flor’s fans are praying for her to win, while she gives thanks for her progress by invoking St. Joseph after each episode.

English version by Martin Delfín.

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