The international appeal of Sandra Gutierrez’s recipes has never been in doubt, but her authority as a cookbook writer has just been certified by a prestigious culinary organization.

This week, Gourmand International named her Empanadas, the Hand-Held Pies of Latin America the 2016 winner in its Single Subject category (scroll down to Section E, near the bottom, to find her name). The Cary author talked with INDY recently about the book and the impact of Latin American cuisine in the Triangle.

“Lisa Ekus, my agent, shared the news with me last night,” Gutierrez says. “It was a total surprise for me. I had no idea that it was in the running.”

Gourmand Awards will be presented this May in China.

“The ceremony is beautiful, a global celebration and cultural festival,” she says. “I wish it wasn’t so far away for me to go, but I just can’t. My daughter graduates law school in May, and I’m already booked with events and classes. I don’t know if it’s streamed live, but that’s my next assignment—to find out.”

Gutierrez has upcoming events Feb. 17 at the Levine Museum of the New South in Charlotte and Feb. 27 at Southern Season in Chapel Hill. For details, visit her website.