‘Below Deck Med’ Producer Insists Chef Tom Was Not a Plant

Some Below Deck Mediterranean viewers are suspicious of how Captain Sandy Yawn suddenly hired chef Tom Checketts. As bosun Malia White’s boyfriend, was Checketts planted to take over the minute chef Hindrigo “Kiko” Lorran stumbled in the kitchen?

Executive producer Nadine Rajabi addressed the suspicion head-on, offering some behind the scenes insight into what was happening with Lorran and that the crew was actually anticipating a female chef to come in and take over.

Malia White, Tom Checketts, Jessica More, Christine "Bugsy" Drake
Malia White, Tom Checketts, Jessica More, Christine “Bugsy” Drake |Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

“That was not a setup,” she said on the Reality Life with Kate Casey podcast. “I know it looked like it, I promise you it wasn’t. And [Christine] Bugsy [Drake] as well. There were two other second stews that were lined up and they both fell through. So that was a last-minute thing.”

Checketts planned to visit White before Lorran left. The original replacement chef fell through so Rajabi explains that the crew truly was in a tight spot and hoped Checketts would take over for the remaining two weeks of the season.

No one expected Chef Kiko to leave

“I know that Kiko’s firing was really tough,” Rajabi said. “Kiko at that point, he had forced Sandy’s hand when he was like, ‘After the charter then I leave.’ And that was a big thing. Kiko was so adorable, so loveable. I think what was hard was that Kiko really did kill the 72 plates and when people saw that, I think Kiko was in over his head. And that’s something he would tell you as well.”

“There were a couple of crew meals he missed, there were a lot of things that didn’t make the show,” she continued. “Not on purpose there just wasn’t timing for it. I think if they actually saw everything, like Sandy helping him, putting him to bed early, cleaning his dishes, they would have gotten a better picture.”

Kate Chastain from Below Deck also addressed viewer suspicions that production orchestrated the season. “I know that everybody thinks this was some master scheme,” Chastain said on Another Below Deck podcast. “I can guarantee you, it was not. It certainly looks like it. But I know for a fact as it was going down, while they were filming, the production was just watching and they’re like, ‘Oh God, did Kiko just kind of quit? We didn’t plan this!'”

“When Malia went to Captain Sandy and was like, ‘Look what I found’ [producers] were like, ‘What?’ This was not calculated by production or anything,” Chastain added. “Nobody could have predicted that Kiko was gonna make such a horrible Las Vegas meal.”

Chef Tom was in the right place at the right time

“Tom was always supposed to come,” Rajabi said. “Sandy was actually looking for another chef. It was tough to find another chef. At the time we had somebody else lined up, and some things happened. It was another female chef and she couldn’t make it.”

Once the first chef fell through producers knew the crew was in trouble because it isn’t as easy to just hire a new crew member. The crew member had to be vetted by production and go through protocols.


‘Below Deck Med’: Captain Sandy Says She Supported Chef Kiko

“So Tom staying was kind of a Godsend in that sense,” Rajabi continued. “He’s a very qualified yacht chef like he’s on huge boats. He was in Europe and he’d flown back home to see Malia and then he was going to back to the UK to see an uncle who was very sick, who unfortunately I do not believe is with us anymore.” She adds that the crew only had two more weeks of the season, but if Checketts got a call to return home, he was ready to leave.