‘Below Deck Mediterranean’ Chefs Tackle a High-Octane Job Designed for Multiple Crew Members

Wondering why chef Mathew Shea from Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 “freaked out” before charter? Like many superyacht chefs, Shea likely has a team to support him on yachts he’s worked on in the past. He probably isn’t the sole chef for the entire boat and has more time to plan and prep for guests. But the chef job on the series is a lot tougher than what most yacht chefs experience in the “real world” and previous Below Deck chefs dish about the differences.

Chef Anastasia from ‘Below Deck Med’ says the job is much harder than how it looks

Anastasia Surmava who was promoted from stew to chef during Below Deck Med Season 4 explained that most boats have more kitchen support. “The huge thing is you don’t have a team,” Surmava told Showbiz Cheat Sheet in 2020. “You’re completely by yourself and you don’t have your bussers and dishwashers and your pastry chef. You don’t have any support, really. On the bigger yachts, you may have a sous chef and a crew chef. But generally, you don’t.”

Boat size dictates if more chefs are required. Boats of 100 meters or more require four positions in the galley kitchen. This includes a galley hand, crew chef, sous chef, and the head chef.

Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 Chef Mathew Shea
Below Deck Mediterranean Season 6 Chef Mathew Shea |Laurent Basset/Bravo

“So you’re everything, you’re it,” she added about the Below Deck chef job. “It’s really stressful and you have to be so organized and so good with time management. I think a lot of people watch the show and were like, ‘How come you just couldn’t get it out hot or on time?’”

Cooking for ‘Below Deck’ guests alone is a huge job (but they have to cook for crew too)

Surmava also recalled how overwhelming it was to just cook for the guests, without adding in crew food, cleaning, and having to provision. “But oh my God, you are one person trying to cook everything to the correct temperature and then you’ve got to keep it hot,” she said. “And then you have to plate it to this high-end status. All that takes a lot of time. And then you’re thinking, ‘I still have my desserts to think about, I have this to think about it.’ It’s a lot.”

“I think it’s hard for people to grasp how much work it is for one person,” she said. “That on top of working 16 to 18 hours every day. By the end, you’re just a broken human being.”

Anastasia Surmava plans meals on Below Deck Med Season 4
Anastasia Surmava plans meals on Below Deck Med Season 4 |Greg Endries/Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

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Chef Tom Checketts from Below Deck Mediterranean Season 5 discussed the yacht chef job he landed after filming – he certainly wasn’t the only chef too. “There are two chefs,” he described his job to Decider in 2020. “I’m the head chef, and then a nice young British guy called Will is the sous chef. He’s a nice guy. He’s only been on board for about three and a half months.” Adding, “He’s fit in really well.”

‘Below Deck Med’ chef Tom Checketts explains why the job surprised him

Checketts also discussed preference sheets and preparing for charter. Below Deck chefs have a very limited window to plan for meals not to mention order the right provisions.

“I suppose on [other] boats, you would have preference sheets, [but] you would get your preference sheets a week, or two weeks, or potentially months ahead of the guests arriving,” he explained. “I have a high-profile charter that’s going to happen in three weeks time. I’ve already ordered the food for it. The provisioner has had the order for a while. That’s generally how it works.”

ChefTom Checketts in the Below Deck Med Season 5 galley kitchen
Chef Tom Checketts in the Below Deck Med Season 5 galley kitchen | Karolina Wojtasik/Bravo

RELATED: ‘Below Deck Mediterranean’: Captain Sandy Teases Huge Chef Drama, Says Chef Mathew Was ‘Laziest’ and Has ‘Biggest Problem With Authority’

“You can be very, very organized because you know the program,” he continued. “We have the boss arriving tomorrow, the food order was placed two weeks ago. It’s none of this last-minute provisions turning up the morning of the guests. [But] that’s because of the nature of the charters, and how they’re booked in close proximity to each other. Some of it has been avoidable, I suppose. But yeah. It’s not quite how I thought it was going to be.”