Stephane Nguyen and Kate Blenkiron are the husband and wife team behind the wildly popular French Cooking Academy online cooking school and YouTube channel, boasting 750,000 subscribers. Stephane, originally from Fontainebleau, is the face of the channel. His authenticity, warmth and accessible recipes have won legions of fans. The choice of dishes – like a one pot fricassée, potato gratin with comté and gruyere, techniques for mastering sauces, desserts and more – are pure French comfort classics.

left: Creamy chicken in a cast iron skillet; right: choux pastry filled with crème chantilly, garnished with mint

Anyone can make these at home because they’ve just released their debut cookbook – French Cooking Academy: 100 Essential Recipes for the Home Cook. To celebrate, we are excited to share three exclusive recipes with you – perfect if you’re looking for a sophisticated alternative menu to serve this holiday season, or for any special occasion.

From Amateur to Mastering the Art of French Cooking

Stephane Nguyen was not a cook by trade. He was, in fact, an IT guy. Having settled Down Under with his Australian partner Kate, he realized he would have to make the typical, authentic French food he was home sick for himself. The only problem? He was not really a cook.

With a passion for eating, Stephane scoured the internet for recipes. He soon realized there were not so many useful resources. So, Stephane taught himself. He bought a culinary school book, going through it lesson by lesson. As a tech guy, it was natural to try his hand at posting on You Tube. In doing so, he (re)discovered his own culture and cuisine. What started out just for fun, blossomed into a successful YouTube channel, an online cooking school, and now a book.

Kate, too, is self-taught – as a photographer. What is striking about the entire enterprise is it is just the two of them. “Stephane would prepare the dish and then rush it immediately to our photography space for Kate to capture” the pair explained to us. “Then, we would devour it for lunch, dinner, or dessert, or share it with our neighbors (there is a limit to how many choux puffs with chantilly cream you can eat after several test runs). What you see is exactly what has just come out of the oven or the fridge, without a team of assistants and stylists using tricks to enhance the presentation.” Indeed, the images and videos are created for the eyes, appetite and education of their community rather than merely for the virality of social platforms, so often the case nowadays.

Kate Blenkiron and Stephane Nguyen from The French Cooking Academy in their white kitchen.

The book is designed for home cooks. They are simple, authentic French recipes that don’t require hours in the kitchen or fancy cooking skills. Stephane’s cooking and teaching style focus on a natural and uncomplicated approach to cooking. Each dish allows readers to acquire different skills and evolve into better cooks. The book teaches efficient mise en place and essential, classic culinary techniques to make cooking more effortless

A French Dinner Menu For the Home Cook

Presented like a bistro menu, the recipes include small bites, starters, mains and of course, France’s famous desserts. We are grateful to The French Cooking Academy for sharing an exclusive menu of recipes to HIP Paris readers. One thing the French do so well is celebrate the rituals of the everyday, and this menu is no exception. It could be served for a dinner party or holiday menu that offers your guests something out of the norm. Or as a beautiful supper to treat yourself and your family.

Creamy Sautéed Chicken with Cider and Calvados

The main of Creamy Sautéed Chicken with Cider and Calvados marries all the flavors of Normandy in one dish. Normandy is famed for its rich dairy products and also known for apples. Calvados (a strong apple brandy) and apple cider balance the rich creaminess of this comforting dish.

Potatoes Boulangère

Potatoes Boulangère is a lighter take on the classic gratin, but the potatoes are slow cooked in stock, onions and bacon. With that as your base, it’s hard to go wrong.

Potatoes boulangere garnished with a bay leaf and thyme in a ceramic pot.

Traditional Basque Cake With Black Cherry Jam

And the pièce de resistance is a Traditional Basque Cake with Black Cherry Jam. There is a fast, fuss-free version with a cherry jam filling that allows this beloved regional specialty to live up to its reputation for deliciousness and simplicity.

The French Cooking Academy Cookbook is published by Page Street Publishing Co.

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HiP Paris

HiP Paris is a lifestyle website about everything Paris and beyond. We enlighten and entertain our community, and share tips and recommendations. We believe in respect for French culture, timeless luxury, being comfortable in your skin, and the simple beauty of French life. Started in 2008, HIP Paris has evolved into a hub for expats and Francophiles. We have been featured in the New York Times, Business Insider, Bloomberg, Buzzfeed, Eater, Bon Appetit, Refinery29 and many other publications.

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