A native of Quito, Ecuador, Maria Baez Kijac is a food writer and historian who specializes in Latin American cuisine. She is the author of The South American Table, named by the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards as the best Latino cookbook in the world for 2003 and, in 2008, Best of the Best. She holds degrees in Liberal Arts from Northwestern University and in French cooking from the Dumas Père L’Ecole de la Cuisine Française.
Maria has studied in Spain, Portugal, and many Latin American countries. She was a food columnist for Vista Magazine and the kitchen director for the American Family Kitchen, a TV series produced by PBS. She taught Latin American cuisine at Kendall College, where they are using South American Table as a textbook. Her other cookbooks include Cooking with a Latin Beat and The Art of Cooking with Quinoa.