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Chef Ryan and Brittini Worked Together Before ‘Below Deck Down Under’ – ‘He’s a Sweet Man’ [Exclusive]

Chef Ryan McKeown and Brittini Burton worked together before they joined the cast of 'Below Deck Sailing Yacht.' Burton said she never witnessed the fights he had with Aesha Scott but said he's not the bad guy he appears to be on the show.

The combative version of chef Ryan McKeown on Below Deck Down Under is not exactly the person deckhand Brittini Burton got to know when she worked with him before joining the show.

Burton recently told Showbiz Cheat Sheet that watching the clash between McKeown and chief stew Aesha Scott is new for her because she had no idea how bad it was until she watched the episodes. “When you see Aesha and Ryan talking, no deckhand is seeing that because we are literally outside,” she said. While she was surprised by how intense the conflict became, she said McKeown isn’t the big villain he seems to be playing on the show.

Brittini describes the ‘Below Deck Down Under’ chef as ‘sweet’

“I’m pretty stunned by it [the clash]” she said. “But something that some people don’t know is I knew Ryan before the show. So I walked on the boat, I didn’t tell him I was coming, but I knew he was going to be there. So I walked on a boat and I was like, ‘What’s up Ryan?’ We actually worked on a boat together a few months prior to the season starting.”

Chef Ryan McKeown and Brittini Burton 'Below Deck Down Under' cast photo
Chef Ryan McKeown and Brittini Burton | Peacock

“So Ryan and I did have like a relationship prior as friends,” she continued. “And I kind of knew about the personality energy he was. So I wasn’t too shocked by it. When you see me out to dinner, I’m just not putting energy into something that I knew wouldn’t give me energy back. It would be depleting. But I actually do like Ryan. He’s a sweet man, we talk all the time.”

Tumi also approached Chef Ryan the same way on ‘Below Deck’

Burton said she doesn’t love seeing the combative behavior in the galley kitchen. But then again, she didn’t work directly with McKeown. Close friend and second stew Tumi Mhlongo also felt the same way, even though she worked directly with McKeown.

“I think it’s funny because I’ve talked about this before, and Tumi seems to have the exact same reaction to him,” she observed. “It just sounds like he’s reacting. And it seems like he’s reacting from an inner child. So sometimes he shows up as just like the 9-year-old child when his father passed away.”

“And those parts of him come out when things aren’t working the way he wants them to work,” Burton shared. “So it’s not necessarily where I’m like, ‘Oh, that’s really OK’ [about the behavior]. But I see past the intensity. And I can see what actually is most likely happening behind the scenes within himself.”

Chef Ryan is actually a ‘teddy bear’

Burton described the Below Deck Down Under chef as a fun-loving and sweet person. “He’s like a teddy bear who wants to be held,” she said. “He’s just like that small teddy bear that wants to be loved and held.”


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So knowing the other side of McKeown made watching this season interesting for Burton. “A lot of it I didn’t see,” she said of the heated exchanges he had with Scott. “The times Ryan and I only hung out were on nights out. So being outside you don’t really interact with the interior. Which is really wild when you see things that you didn’t know were happening until the show comes out.”

McKeown’s time on the boat may be coming to an end. Scott finally confided in Captain Jason Chambers about the ongoing conflict and Chambers was seen calling another chef to have on standby.

Will McKeown pack up his knives in the future? Episodes of Below Deck Down Under are currently streaming on Peacock.