‘Below Deck’: Does Chef Outrank Chief Stew?

Crew rank is extremely important on a superyacht. When crew members on Below Deck clash, viewers often see how lower-ranking crew members, going up against a crew member of a higher rank can turn out badly.

During season two of Below Deck, chef Ben Robinson tells third stew Amy Johnson to manage a romantic dinner for the primary guest, while chief stew Kate Chastain and second stew Kat Held should serve the rest of the guests. Chastain seems annoyed Robinson ordered it this way but follows his direction.

Kate Chastain, Adrian Martin, Ashton Pienaar
Kate Chastain, Adrian Martin, Ashton Pienaar | Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Viewers seemed confused about why Chastain didn’t fight back or insist on serving the primary herself. But while the chief stew doesn’t necessarily report to the chef, the position of the chef is a higher rank than the chief stew.

Yacht rank has many layers

Even though Below Deck viewers see the bosun, chief stew and chef as the three main leadership positions under the captain, there are far more layers. Superyacht Crew Agency offers a handy chart that shows exactly how rank works on a yacht.

At the very top is the captain, which is at the “top of the hierarchy.” This includes taking “ultimate responsibility for the vessel, yacht crew, owner and the guests.” But directly under the captain is not the chief stew or bosun. But instead is the head chef position. Additional direct reports include the chief officer, chief engineer and pursuer too.

Superyacht Crew Agency
Crew Rank | Photo Superyacht Crew Agency

These direct reports work side by side with the captain with the chief officer being second in command. “Some of the responsibilities [of the chief officer] include the safe manning of the yacht, overseeing and managing all crew operations and maintenance, and a list of administrative and safety duties on board,” according to Superyacht Crew Agency. “Also, regularly takes bridge watches and often be responsible for the majority of the yachts passage planning and navigation.”

The chef usually outranks the chief stew and bosun

According to Superyacht Crew Agency, the chief stew actually reports to the purser. However, in some cases, the chief stew and the purser are one in the same. “A purser tends to be found on larger yachts where they have a large number of yacht crew, where no yacht crew role for a purser is required, the Chief Stewardess assumes some of these responsibilities.” In the case where the purser and chief stew are the same roles, the rank may possibly be the same as the chef.

While bosun seems to be a high command position, it has two ranks above it. In a larger yacht, the bosun reports to the second officer. The second officer reports to the first officer or chief officer. The bosun can also be considered to be the lead deckhand. Below Deck has featured lead deckhands in this leadership position. Or the bosun will appoint one deckhand as the lead. But Superyacht Crew Agency describes the bosun position as being in “charge of the Deckhands, deck operations, and likely to spend a great deal of time with guests and owners when on board, therefore a positive attitude, a keen eye for detail and service are paramount.”