A nun on a mission from God is blazing a trail through a popular TV cooking contest – but some might say she had the luck of the devil when a sympathetic judge turned a blind eye to her cheating.
Florinda Ruiz, who has thanked St. Joseph every time she has progressed to another round of the Mexican version of MasterChef, has no doubt that it is faith and love that have got her to the final.
“To me, the love I have for God is comparable to the love I have for cooking,” she said. “I think that if I can win, it is because I have faith in my dishes.”
Indeed, no one can fault Sister Florinda’s cooking skills. Her simple convent recipe for a dessert made from the Mexican staple chayote won her a place in the contest. And her specialty dish, a three-meat course with dried chile sauce, saw the celebrity nun advance to become one of the six finalists.
But Sister Florinda, from the Palafoxiano Convent in Puebla, left the show’s producers open-mouthed when she placed a sauce on her platter after the time limit on a challenge had been called, hoping in vain that no one would notice.
But instead of expelling the nun as per the rules of the contest, chef and judge Betty Vásquez pardoned her, citing her previous honesty.
Perhaps it was sympathy for a good cause that inspired such leniency. Sister Florinda, 67, who discovered her religious vocation just over half a century ago, is battling to save her convent from crippling debt.
Though the MasterChef first prize of 1 million pesos (US $59,000) falls well short of the 7 million pesos owed by the Sisters of the Passion of Christ and Our Lady of Sorrows for building a new school, it will be enough to keep the banks at bay for a while at least.
However one chooses to look at it, right now strong faith appears to be conducive to success in the world of reality TV. With the top prize within her grasp, Sister Florinda, dubbed “the wonder nun,” could be set to follow in the footsteps of fellow nun Cristina Scuccia, who won the Italian version, called The Voice, last year.