Dee Laffan, Blanca Valencia, Mei Chin: Soup

Cook the Books - Cooking Demonstrations




To explain Soup, we have to start with Spice Bags, our award-winning Headstuff podcast. The purpose of Spice Bags was to highlight, through a culinary lens, the burgeoning international community shaping Ireland. Blanca, Dee, and Mei were stimulated by the people they had interviewed and the stories about how they had made Ireland their home.

Our book Soup was arguably a pandemic creation, for it was conceived during a period when we missed our families, and the thought of soup was something that warmed us in the lonely, Irish chill. In a time we could not travel, the soups that were shared by our contributors provided us with a glimpse around the globe

We said in our book, "Soup is the stock from which we come.”  While the soups in our book include classic concoctions like ajiaco and borsh, not all of our notions of soup are conventional. The personal stories of what soup meant to us, we realised was very different in each case. For us, a soup can be poured from a packet, served ice-cold, or popped from a tin can. Nevertheless, every soup evokes a memory. Soup contains not only recipes, but also portraits of the people who we have come to know and cherish.

About Dee Laffan

Dee Laffan is a food journalist and editor with over 15 years experience. Currently, she is features journalist with Irish Country Living in the Farmers Journal.

Dee also co-founded a bi-annual food journal in 2022 called Scoop, published by Nine Bean Rows Books, which she is editor-in-chief of.

In 2023, Dee co-authored Blasta Book #5 SOUP with her former Spice Bags Podcast co-hosts Mei Chin and Blanca Valencia. The podcast,

which finished in 2023, was awarded Best Food Podcast in the Irish Food Writing Awards in 2021 and 2023.

Dee was formerly editor of Food & Wine Ireland, Easy Food Magazine and Yes Chef Magazine, and Publishing Director of a trade hospitality title.

Her passion for Irish food has led her to many roles in the industry: a member of Irish Food Writers’ Guild, chair of Slow Food Dublin, host of the Taste Theatre at Taste of Dublin and Bastecamp stage at Big Grill Festival, and a judge of Blas na hÉireann (Irish Food Awards).

About Blanca Valencia

Blanca Valencia is a speaker, cook, writer interested in the intersection of food, pop culture, history and art.

Born in Spain, she grew up in Central America and has lived and worked

in the UK, China, France, Argentina, the US and now Ireland. She was the co-host of the award-winning Spice Bags podcast with Mei Chin and Dee Laffan which won Best Food & Drink Podcast in the Irish Food

Writing Awards in 2021 and 2023 and co-author of Blasta Books #5 SOUP. Blanca has a Grand Diplôme from London’s Le Cordon Bleu and an MA in Gastronomy and Food Studies. Her work experience includes running the test kitchen in Books for Cooks (London), elbulli Hotel (Seville), developing cooking classes for the Chicago Cultural Center and running

the cooking school at Alambique (Madrid). Recently she has collaborated with the National Gallery of Ireland on a project about food and art, a topic she is very passionate about.

About Mei Chin

Mei Chin is a writer who has contributed to Saveur, the Irish Times, Irish Independent, Sunday Times Ireland, Dublin Inquirer, Gourmet, Gilt Taste, Lucky Peach, New York Times, Vogue, Rolling Stone, Fiction and Bomb.

Mei was the 2005 winner of the James Beard MFK Fisher Distinguished Writing Award as well as the recipient of the International Association of Culinary Professionals (IACP) Bert Greene journalism award for Best Culinary Writing in 2010 and 2013. In 2021, she won the Irish Food Writing Award for Best International Writing. She is the co-host and founder of the award-winning podcast, Spice Bags. Her essays have been anthologized in Cornbread Nation and Best Food Writing and she has taught food writing at Yale University, New Haven.

Born in Atlantic City, New Jersey, Mei grew up in Connecticut, lived in New York City and hence likes to think of herself as a tri-state lady. She now lives in Dublin, where she is currently engaging in her first love literature - by writing book reviews for the Irish Times and finishing a novel, The Mushroom Queen.


Back to scheduleBuy Festival TicketsBuy TicketsDownload Event Recipes