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!



About Karen

I travel the back roads of New England and beyond, sharing great food and interesting places.
This entry was posted in food, lifestyle, photography, recipes, travel and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

145 Responses to Simple French Dinner Party Cooking Class

  1. The class sounds fun. What a nice thing to do and great classic French recipe.

  2. Wonderful post Karen. We have never done a cruise of any sort, but this sounds grand.

  3. Darlene says:

    What fun!! I took a cooking class in Provence once and loved it. This recipe looks great. Thanks.

  4. Mad Dog says:

    It looks delicious – I bet that was an amusing afternoon.

  5. Eva Taylor says:

    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.

    • Karen says:

      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.

  6. This would definitely tick all my boxes. It sounds just perfect!

  7. Starting my winter herb containers this week, this sound perfect and delicious. I love a good cooking class!

  8. 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!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  9. Ron says:

    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!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  10. Larry says:

    Sounds like a fun way to spend some cruising time.especially when you both did it – the chicken looks delicious, thanks for the recipe

    • Karen says:

      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.

  11. Penny says:

    I know I would have enjoyed that class. What fun. What was the dessert? Looks like tarte tatin. Thanks Karen.

  12. 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. 🙂

  13. What a great post. I bet it was so interesting to take this course.The menu looks delicious and I am definitely going to make that chicken recipe.

    • Karen says:

      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.

  14. Penny at Enjoying The Simple Things says:

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

    • Karen says:

      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.

  15. That cooking class sounds like so much fun and I like the chicken dish. Happy travels Karen and thank you for sharing it.

  16. I Wilkerson says:

    What a fun experience. And the chicken sounds like something I do need to make!

  17. WOW! What a great experience. Looks like so much fun!

  18. For the Love of Cooking says:

    Such an incredible experience. The chicken looks amazing!

  19. Gaz says:

    Cooking classes when travelling overseas are fun. I’ve only done one, it was in Vietnam.

  20. 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!

    • Karen says:

      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. 😀

  21. You have the most interesting adventures. This one looks like a lot of fun. Thanks for sharing the recipe. It sounds delicious.

    • Karen says:

      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.

  22. Oh what fun, and a great recipe too!

  23. I’ve taken many cooking/baking classes but never on a cruise (that’s because I don’t care to be cooped up on a boat). Love the recipe though but I would have to take mine without the skin 🙂

    • Karen says:

      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.

      • 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…

  24. Sounds like your future guests are in for more great dinners. 🙂

    • Karen says:

      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. 😀

  25. Thank you for sharing the simple and elegant recipe from chef Kelly.

  26. Juliana says:

    OMG, what a fun experience Karen…and the chicken looks fabulous…thank you so much for sharing the recipe…awesome!

  27. looks absolutely lovely and delicious ! I will print this recipe . Yummy!

  28. Eha says:

    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 . . .

    • Karen says:

      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.

  29. nancyc says:

    Sounds like a fun class! And the recipe looks so good too! 🙂

  30. Cathy says:

    I love cooking classes and this recipe looks like a winner.

  31. This sounds so fun! I’d love to do something like this class!

  32. This is my kind of vacation activity! Fabulous!

  33. 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~

  34. chef mimi says:

    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.

  35. David says:

    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!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  36. Conor Bofin says:

    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.

  37. 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.

  38. What a fun experience! Definitely sounds like my kind of party. It’s so cool that you could take this class while sailing the high seas, too.

  39. Now that is one of my dreams—to take a cooking class while overseas! So fun and I bet you were a star pupil!

    • Karen says:

      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. 🙂

  40. ladyfi says:

    What a fun afternoon!

  41. That is so fabulous being able to do a cooking class on a cruise! I always miss being in the kitchen when I travel so this would suit me perfectly 😀

  42. Marcie says:

    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!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  43. Linda says:

    I would be right there with you!

  44. Cooking classes are such fun! This one sounds even better with the French theme.

  45. Wow, what an amazing experience. This is something I know I would enjoy 🙂

  46. Looks so good with that creamy herb sauce!

  47. adina says:

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

  48. pamela511 says:

    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!

  49. The best part of the trip for sure. Your recipe and that sauce looks so delicious. You could easily be part of the cruise ship chef staff with your delicious meals.

    • Karen says:

      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.

  50. What a wonderful idea for a cruise!!
    Thanks so much for including this terrific recipe!!!

  51. What a beautiful trip you are having. cooking classes are fun. We just did one with a chef in Italy. She skyped us and while she cooked, we did too! Parmigiano Reggiano was our subject and it was great!

  52. What a fun experience! I would love someone to whisk away my dirty dishes here at home, lol. The dish looks lovely too! It would be such a beautiflll company dish.

  53. 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!

  54. 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).

    • Karen says:

      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.

  55. grace says:

    fancy but doable! what a tasty dish and fun experience!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  56. Cooking classes are so much fun! How wonderful to combine a cooking class with your wonderful trip. I think I would love this dish. Herbs make everything more delicious!

  57. Mae says:

    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!

    • Karen says:

      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. 🙂

  58. Miriam @londonkitchendiaries says:

    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

  59. What a dream vacation for a foodie! To go on a lovely cruise and take a cooking class on top! The chicken fines herbes recipe sounds divine, Karen! I love following your travel adventures!

    • Karen says:

      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. 🙂

  60. 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!

    • Karen says:

      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.

  61. I’d love to take a class, it must be so much fun

    • Karen says:

      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.

  62. Roadtirement says:

    That sounds like such a fun class.

  63. Sheryl says:

    The cooking class sounds like a lot of fun. And, the finished product looks incredible.

  64. mjskit says:

    What a fun way to spend a day! Lucky you and lucky us for being able to get such a great recipe!

  65. What fun and you came away with a lovely recipe as well as a terrific memory. Sounds like an amazing trip….looking forward to the next instalment! ☺️👩‍🍳💙

  66. Mél@nie says:

    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! 😉

  67. kitchenriffs says:

    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!

  68. Karen says:

    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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