'Below Deck Med:' Who Cooks the Crew Meals?

Yacht chefs like those featured on Below Deck Mediterranean have to do more than just impress the guests with their culinary skills.

They also have to keep the crew fed and happy so that workers have enough juice to service the guests. A happy crew translates to happy charter guests, which ultimately means a better tip. Some yacht crew members can possibly make up to $45,000 in tip money alone, so if service isn’t great, chances are the tip will be impacted.

What kind of meals can the crew anticipate during charter? Captain Sandy Yawn thought the Old El Paso tacos Chef Mila Kolomeitseva was making for the guests were for the crew. So are boxed tacos something the crew can expect?

Finding a balance between feeding the guests and crew can be tough

Yacht chefs are essentially creating meals for two sets of people. First they have to impress the guests, while at the same time sticking to the preference sheet. At the same time, they are dealing with a hungry crew who have been on their feet for 12 straight hours performing manual labor.

Chef Adam Glick from last season of Below Deck Med admitted it was tough to find a balance between feeding the guests and crew. Crew members were often filmed digging through the galley kitchen for any scraps they could find. Glick recalled how hard it was to remember to actually make sure everyone was being fed.

“This season on the show, I think my greatest challenge is balancing my desire to impress these guests, satisfying them, but also feeding my crew properly,” he told Heavy. “I got so hell-bent on feeding these guests and improving myself in that regard … I would definitely make up for it with big, lavish meals for the crew, but there were definitely some lunches that they had to make themselves, with bread and cold cuts. I’m there to feed them and I need to remember them sometimes.”

Crew meals resemble what it’s like to feed a family

One yacht chef said she would prep crew food ahead of time so she could quick assemble meals. “At the beginning of the week, I make two sheet trays of grilled chicken breast (about 20 pieces),” Chef Ivy Dai wrote for Onboard Online. “I slice up half, and freeze. It becomes chicken curry, sandwiches, stir fry, chicken and broccoli pasta – you get the point. Do the work once for multiple meals.”

Dai also uses a slow cooker to prepare meals for the crew while she handles food preparation for the guests. Plus, “Once a week, do a fry-up for breakfast, with eggs, bacon, toast and potatoes. It goes a long way toward boosting team morale. Each crew member can also request a special dish once a month.”

And if all else fails, understand you can’t please everyone. “And if at the end of the day, there’s still a wave of discontent, the only thing you can do is accept it and let it go,” Dai said. “It’s pretty much impossible to please everyone.”

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