Simple French Dinner Party Cooking Class

You can’t keep a foodie out of the kitchen, even while on a cruise along the coast of France, Spain and Portugal. Who could resist participating in a cooking class, creating five classic French recipes that can be served at a simple French dinner party in your own home.

Simple French Dinner Party

After sailing out of the port of Bordeaux, France, my husband and I joined 16 other participants in the Culinary Arts Kitchen on the Seven Seas Explorer for a fun afternoon of cooking. We were greeted by Chef Kathryn Kelly and Chef Instructor Kellie and told to head to a cooking station and put on our aprons. Glasses of wine were poured and the fun began.

The ship’s state of the art kitchen is impressive with floor to ceiling windows looking out to the ocean, quartz countertops, and lots of stainless steel. The room has eighteen individual cooking stations built in three long curved rows. Each station has an induction cooktop, stainless steel sink, wooden knife block and pullout drawer full of necessary utensils. I’ve attended many cooking classes over the years, even given by Michelin starred chefs from France, and this wonderful kitchen is a real dream. Cutting boards and knifes were carefully laid out along with prepped ingredients just waiting for us to start cooking.

Before we started each course, we all gathered around Chef Kelly and her instructor to listen and watch how each dish should be prepared before we headed back to our own stations to cook the dish ourselves. As we were cooking, both chefs circulated among us, giving advice and making sure that we were doing everything properly. Their assistants made sure empty bowls were quickly carried away and our assembled dishes were taken to the ovens to bake. Wine glasses were refilled as we plated and then tasted our finished dishes before we started the next course.

Executive Chef Kathryn Kelly, Myself And Chef Instructor Kelli

The culinary classes are an hour and a half to two hours long and the time flew by. It was great fun, we learned some new cooking tips and were given the recipes so that we could prepare this simple French dinner in our own home for friends. I thought you might enjoy having one of Chef Kelly’s recipes…it is her Chicken Fines Herbes.

Fines herbes, an equal mixture of tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives, is a classic combination used in French cooking to enhance chicken, fish, veal, salads and egg dishes. Because they lose their flavor rather quickly, they should be added to a recipe like this at the last minute or used as a garnish for sauces, soups, sautés and seafood dishes.

Chicken Breast With Fines Herbes Sauce

Chicken Fines Herbes

Serves 6, adjust the recipe accordingly.

Preheat the over to 450 degrees.

  • 6 boneless chicken breast, skin on, room temperature
  • 6 Tbsp. clarified butter*
  • 1/4 c. minced shallots
  • 1/4 c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. heavy cream
  • 1/2 c. veal demi-glace
  • 1/4 c. minced fines herbes (tarragon, chervil, parsley and chives)
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Pat the chicken dry with paper towel. In a large sauté pan over high heat, warm 4 Tbsp. of the butter until searing hot. Add the chicken and sear, turning once, until both sides are golden brown. Transfer to the oven and cook to an internal temperature of 162 degrees. Remove from the oven and reserve warm.

In the same sauté pan over medium heat, melt the remaining 2 Tbsp. of butter and sweat the shallots until soft, about 3 minutes. Increase the heat to medium-high, add the wine and stir to deglaze the pan, allowing the alcohol to evaporate and the sauce to reduce to a syrupy consistency.

Decrease the heat to medium-low. Add the cream and warm through. Then add the demi-glace and warm through, adjusting the heat as needed to prevent simmering. Stir in half of the fines herbes. Season to taste with salt and pepper if needed.

Slice each chicken breast on the diagonal into 3 pieces and layer, shingle style, on a serving plate. Pour the sauce over the chicken and garnish with the remaining fines herbes.


My tips for preparing this recipe:

  • Flatten the breast on the boned side, if necessary, so that it is an even thickness.
  • Thoroughly dry the room temperature chicken breasts on both sides with paper towels then season with the salt and pepper.
  • The recipe calls for clarified butter*. You can buy clarified butter or ghee in some markets, if not, you can make it yourself. It is the same as making drawn butter. Place a stick of butter in microwaveable dish and cover with plastic wrap. Cook until the butter melts and the white milk solids rise to the top and are present at the bottom, about 1 minute. Skim off the milk solids with a spoon and carefully pour the clarified liquid into a measuring cup or bowl, being careful not to mix the bottom milky solids into the clarified butter.
  • Once the chicken is in the pan, don’t try to turn the chicken for a full four or five minutes so that the skin gets golden brown.
  • Before putting the chicken in the oven to finish cooking, check with a meat  thermometer. Depending on the thickness of the breasts, the chicken may not need any addition time to cook, mine reached the proper temperature just from sautéing.


I hope you will enjoy the Chicken Fines Herbes recipe as much as our class did. We enjoyed the dish so much that we have prepared the chicken and herb sauce at home. I agree with Chef Kelly when she wrote “When I think of elegant, I think of French…however, when I think of simple, I usually do NOT think of French.” With this recipe, she managed to do both, creating a simple dish that will impress your guests. Thank you, Chef!



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145 thoughts on “Simple French Dinner Party Cooking Class

  1. What an awesome experience, JT and I also love taking cooking classes when we are away. The chicken with fine herbs looks wonderful, I’m sure we would love the flavours.

    1. Hi Eva, We had a great time. I’ve done cooking classes but this is the first one that my husband has done. He’s a good cook and enjoyed the class as well.

  2. What a wonderful idea to learn new skills whilst on a cruise! The recipe looks delicious too: I am a great fan of chicken cooked in butter and cream and I just love tarragon and herbs de Provence, which I use in many dishes. Bon appétit!

    1. Hi Fatima, This sounds like the perfect recipe for you to try…we thought it was delicious. There were so many different activities on the ship and we were lucky to be able to take this cooking class as they fill up quickly.

  3. Many years ago when I first got into cooking, I was introduced to French cooking and “Fines herbes”. It’s such a fantastic blend, especially with chicken dishes.
    Just the joy of attending a cooking class is top shelf, but to do it on a cruise ship with such a cooking station. Wow!

    1. Hi Ron, I hadn’t used this particular combination of herbs before and thought they were perfect for this chicken dish. The ship’s teaching kitchen was designed perfectly…it was a real pleasure taking the class.

    1. Hi Larry, My husband loves cooking like you do and I’m glad we both got a chance to participate. I think you would enjoy making this recipe we really enjoyed it.

  4. This sounds like a wonderful cooking class! Love this classic yet simple to make dish. Haven’t used Fine Herbs mixture in a long time, as fresh chervil is not easy to find, but you’ve motivated me to look for it again. 🙂

    1. Hi Ronit, There certainly was a lot of flavor in this simple dish. I thought I might not be able to find the chervil but I was pleasantly surprised that the second market had it…they specialize in fresh veggies.

    1. Thank you Jovina, for your nice compliment. It was a fun class and the chicken was so delicious that I knew I had to share it. I hope you will enjoy it as much as we did.

  5. That sounds like fun and the recipe sounds great too. I can’t find chervil around here.

    1. Hi Penny, If you can’t find chervil (I bought mine at Fresh Market after not finding it at Publix), I would just add a little more tarragon and parsley as a substitute.

      1. It was, we went for a walk around the markets looking at fresh produce and then to the teaching kitchen. All up it was a great experience.

  6. Karen, I have wanted to join the cooking classes on our Oceania cruises, but didn’t. I now will definitely go for it the next time we cruise. Thank you for sharing the recipe, it looks amazing, just saying from one foodie to another!

    1. Hi Pam, Would you believe that Chef Kathryn Kelly used to teach the cooking classes on the Oceania cruises. I don’t know if she goes back and fourth between the two lines as they are sister companies. I’m very happy that you like the recipe…thank you. 😀

    1. Hi Darryl, We are lucky that we can travel the way we do. This was our first cruise and we had a great time. I’m happy that you are following along, thank you. I do think you would enjoy this recipe…it is delicious.

    1. Hi Judy, The chef advised us to cook the chicken with the skin on to keep it moist and that the skins adds flavor when the pan is deglazed. She said the once you were ready to slice and sauce the chicken, you could take the skin off if you didn’t want to eat it. Hope that suggestion helps.

      1. I know the skin adds flavor and fat also but I would not want to cook it that way and have to deal with removing the skin once it’s been coated with sauce. I make a lot of chicken without skin and it’s just fine. Just a personal preference…

    1. You gave me a smile Judy. When I made it at home, it was just for the two of us…just to make sure it turned out as good as it did in class. Now we will be able to serve it to our guests with confidence. 😀

  7. Since I married my first foodie husband-to-be straight from uni and without any kitchen experience, I must have attended each and every food class in Sydney in preparation: a joyous time ! The recipe was classic in my time already tho’ as yet had not made my first demi-glace, now always in the freezer. oops: planted this year’s herbs just a week ago and had forgotten chervil . . .just as well . . .

    1. Hi Eha, You were smart to take all the classes that you could…I’m sure your foodie husband appreciated it. I don’t make my own demi-glace…I buy an excellent frozen one from a New England company called D’Artagnan.

  8. oh my goodness, what foodie fun! Sounds like a dream class, what a fabulous experience! I love traveling with you Karen, it’s always first class! The chicken sounds elegant yet simple~

  9. What fun! Are you really short? Or is that executive chef really tall?!! I’m a short person. I bet this was just fabulous. The set up sounds perfect. This would be my kind of cooking class.

  10. What fun, Karen! I would love to take a cooking class like this sometime – and how cool that they had it on the ship! I will definitely be making this recipe soon – we have found a great source for organic, normal-sized (4-5 ounce) chicken breast that are boneless with the skin! It was like finding gold. I used to avoid chicken breasts because of their unnatural size. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Hi David, I know what you mean about the chicken breasts. I left the first market because the breasts were far too large. At the second market, I ended up asking a butcher to bone breasts for me but keep the skin on. It appears that skin on, boneless chicken breasts are not the norm so I’m happy to know you found a good source.

  11. That sounds like a lot of fun Karen. I will be leading a cookery class (for six people) in the professional kitchen of an Oriental restaurant over the next couple of months. I am really looking forward to it and living in fear of it too.

    1. Hi Conor, If there is anyone that could lead a cooking class, it is you. Everyone will enjoy your classes, you have a great personality and are a fantastic cook.

      1. Karen, you are far too kind to me. However, I look forward to embarrassing myself in front of a room full of people instead of everybody on the Internet, as I usually do!

  12. I love taking cooking classes, too, Karen! Food is such a universal language, and it’s always fun to learn new tips and tricks from experienced professionals. And the opportunity to take a class on a cruise ship is a real treat! Thanks so much for sharing this fun recipe.

    1. Hi Liz, It was indeed fun. It appeared that most everyone taking the class felt comfortable in the kitchen…I didn’t see any catastrophes. 🙂

  13. I was just telling my husband that one day I want to take a cooking class in France. I can’t wait to do something like this — thank you for sharing your experience!

    1. Marcie, I’m with you. I’ve taken cooking classes with French chefs when they visited our country but would love to take a class in their own kitchens…it would be a great experience.

  14. Oh my, I would love to do something like that! And that in the middle of a cruise as well. That chicken looks amazing!

  15. How cool, Karen! What a fun thing to do and to learn at the same time. Sounds like my kind of vacation, French cooking that’s simple. The chicken look delicious!

    1. I appreciate your kind words Bobbie in regards to the meals I’ve shared, thank you very much. My husband and I loved taking the class as part of our cruise.

    1. Hi Cecile, How nice to hear from you, I hope you are enjoying your new life in Florida. You have been missed from the blogging world. The recipe was delicious so I just had to share it. 🙂

    1. Hi Mollie, Having someone to whisk away the dishes is nice. I’m lucky in that my husband does it for me…he calls himself my kitchen slave. 😀 Now that we have tried it again at home and everything worked well, this chicken dish will definitely be served to company.

  16. This might be my favorite post yet Karen!!! What a dream come true– so fancy! And thanks for including the recipe– it really does look delicious. So glad you had the chance to cook with the pros! This is such a marvelous trip all around! hugs from here!

    1. I’m glad you enjoyed this post Rhonda, it was a fun experience to write about. The chicken is definitely as good as it looks and it was my pleasure to share it.

  17. Cooking classes are so awesome!! I remember taking one years ago with my father. I can imagine how fast the time went by…that’s because you were having so much fun, I’m sure 😉 That chicken sounds divine too, especially with those lovely herbs (love tarragon).

    1. Hi Dawn, If you like tarragon then I know you will enjoy this herb combination…the chicken is delicious. You are right about cooking classes, they are great fun.

    1. Hi Grace, That is what we liked about this class, the recipes were all easy to make but made for a pretty presentation that would be nice to serve guests.

  18. There’s one challenge: making veal demi-glace sauce is more than a day’s work, and I’m not sure you can buy a reliable version. I suspect you could find a substitute, and otherwise the recipe sounds excellent. Fun way to travel!

    1. Hi Mae, I don’t think anyone should think this recipe is a challenge, it certainly isn’t. Especially as far as the demi-glace is concerned…all that is needed is 1/2 cup. I would suggest buying demi-glace. I have found several excellent ones…D’Artagnan has a frozen one that is excellent, William-Sonoma has a concentrate that is very good and there are several other brands that I’ve bought at local markets that are good. There are also many recipes for making a substitute using a good beef broth, butter and cornstarch. 🙂

  19. Definitely can’t keep a foodie out of the kitchen 🙂 I am a huge fan of cooking classes – they are so much fun! I hope you are having a great weekend!

    Miriam xx

    1. Hi Miriam, It seems a foodie just has to get as close to a kitchen as possible, especially if you can glean some tips from a professional chef.

    1. Thank you Roz, I’m happy that you enjoy following along on our travel adventures. I know that you certainly would have enjoyed this cruise as well as the cooking class. 🙂

  20. What a wonderful experience! I think that cooking class is something my husband and I would thoroughly enjoy. And honestly, this is a recipe that looks completely “do-able”. Fabulous, glad to have something new to try. Thanks Karen!

    1. Hi Dana, My husband and I really enjoyed the class, I think the two of you would enjoy participating in something like it as well. I’m happy you like the recipe and yes, it is very do-able. 🙂 Thank you for your nice comment, it is much appreciated.

    1. Hi Marta, Thank you for stopping by for a visit and your nice comment. I hope you can find something similar as we had a great time participating in the cooking class.

    1. Thank you Kathryn, I’m happy that you enjoyed the post and are following along on our travel adventures. I recently published a post on Portugal.

  21. splendid – lucky you! 🙂 you may know that the French gastronomy has been the ONLY one accepted by UNESCO as World’s Heritage for over 8 years now – which is not surprising to us! 😉

  22. Got back from our cruise on the Mariner, and catching up. Sounds like a fun class! I’ve not taken one of those, and they sound delightful. Thanks!

  23. Hi John, welcome home. I know you must have had a wonderful cruise on the Mariner. The cooking class was lots of fun and we will try to do another one on a future cruise.

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