Chef Rachel Reveals Why She Is the First ‘Below Deck’ Chef Who Doesn’t Freak Out Over Vegan and Gluten-Free Requests

For the first time in Below Deck history, the series features a chef who not only doesn’t panic when guests request vegan or gluten-free cuisine, she embraces it. Chef Rachel Hargrove didn’t flinch when the first group of demanding guests required vegan and gluten-free options. Her attitude was: Bring it.

Rachel Hargrove
Rachel Hargrove |Laurent Basset/Bravo

Longtime viewers always prepare for a chef meltdown whenever the word “vegan” or dietary requirements grace the preference sheet. But this bold new chef to the series was happy to tackle dietary restrictions because she understands the request from the guest’s perspective.

“I had gastro issues and it was really bad,” Hargrove told Showbiz Cheat Sheet. She didn’t realize it at the time, but a parasite was making her sick. As a result, she dove headfirst into studying a large swath of cuisines in order to ameliorate the pain she endured.

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Hargrove studied macrobiotics, which is a diet that is low in animal fat with a strong focus on plant-based nutrition. “That was the initial reason why I initially [got into a variety of cuisines],” she said about dealing with stomach issues.

“I realized that the macrobiotics was really good, but it wasn’t alleviating [the actual issue],” she continued. “I just couldn’t put my finger on it. So I went to India and I ended up learning about Ayurvedic [cooking].”

“Grounded in a Hindu system of medicine, an Ayurvedic diet instructs you to eat according to a dominant dosha (energy type),” Chrissy Carroll, RD, MPH told Very Well Fit. “There is no scientific rationale for this style of eating, but experts agree the focus on unprocessed foods and mindful eating are both valuable takeaways.”

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Hargrove eventually found a remedy to treat the parasite after her travels took her around the world. As a result, she fearlessly tackles any guest request with gusto, and her talent shows in her food. The guests gushed about the multi-nation cuisine she had to whip up on the fly and Below Deck cast members like Kate Chastain and Captain Lee Rosbach are huge fans.

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Hargrove already flexing her muscles as the first female chef to dominate a Below Deck kitchen. So why has it taken this long for her to be on the show? It’s no secret that she and Chastain are longtime friends. But Hargrove has been hesitant to cook on camera. “My family weren’t big supporters of me doing a reality show,” she admitted. Plus she doesn’t think she was ready until now to do the show.

Hargrove said her boyfriend finally inspired her to take a leap of faith and command the chef role on the show. But once she started working, Hargrove realized she wasn’t thrilled with having a camera homing in on every move she made in the kitchen.

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“It was completely different [than regular yachting],” Hargrove said about working on a boat with cameras. She loved the production crew, but said having a camera put more pressure on her. “But then they are standing in certain spaces when you are trying to work,” she said. “And you are like, ‘I love you but get the f**k out of my way.'”

She enjoyed working with everyone on the crew, especially Rosbach. But who does she tell to go “f**k yourself” in the season 8 trailer? “I can’t tell you who, but it may or may not have happened because the camera said so,” she laughed.

Below Deck is on every Monday at 9/8c on Bravo.