‘Below Deck Med’: Captain Sandy Explains How Crew Hiring Really Works

During this season of Below Deck Mediterranean, Captain Sandy Yawn had to answer a flurry of questions about how the crew is hired.

When Chef Mila Kolomeitseva made food from a box, plus was filmed possibly licking a steak, fans asserted she could not possibly be a real chef. Fans also wondered how Yawn could have hired Kolomeitseva.

Captain Sandy Yawn
Captain Sandy Yawn | Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Yawn spent a considerable amount of time on social media explaining to fans how hiring for the show worked versus hiring for a charter off of the show. She dished with Kate Casey on her podcast, Reality Life about what hiring is really like. Plus she offered exclusive insight into what it was like to work with Kolomeitseva.

This is how the crew is hired off of the show

When cameras aren’t following a yacht crew around for Below Deck Med, hiring is usually done from the top down. Yawn shared with Casey that she typically has extensive interaction with her crew.

“As a captain, I would hire the chef, the chief officer, and the chief stew,” she said. “The chief stew, I would allow to hire the second and third stew. The chief officer I would allow to hire the bosun and the deckhands.”

Yawn also hires the chief engineer but allows that lead person to hire his or her team as well. She adds the team size typically depends on the size of the boat.

How much interaction does the captain have with the chef?

On Below Deck Med, viewers often see Yawn in the galley kitchen. She says she typically has a significant amount of interaction with the chef. “Of course, I’m always talking to the chef,” Yawn says. “The chef makes or breaks the charter.”

When it comes to the show, Yawn says, “The show is a little different. There are cameras everywhere, not enough room in the galley. Mila was obviously a shock, again, I don’t hire the crew.”

She adds that Kolomeitseva was definitely a shock for her. “I trusted her and believed her,” she says. “I didn’t see a lot of it and there’s a lot going on in the bridge. But in the maritime industry, the chef and I always talk.” She’d even go out to breakfast with the chef and connect about budget and provisioning. Yawn adds that the financial side she deals with on charter is handled by the show so she isn’t interacting with the chef on that aspect.

Shocking to say the least

Yawn re-iterated her shock about what Kolomeitseva cooked for guests. “Shocking, shocking, shocking!” Yawn exclaimed. “I have never in my entire career…when Hannah [Ferrier] told me and I ate the cake, we have to get rid of her.”

But Yawn again said finding a new chef mid-season is tough. Plus, Below Deck crew members have to go through additional screening beyond what is needed for a regular charter.

Yawn described her interaction with Kolomeitseva. “She was always very respectful when it came to me,” she says. “I think she follows authority really well. I think she’s trained to do that, to be honest. But I didn’t see that other side of her.”