The Below Deck boss admits it felt "weird" to start a season without the longtime chief stew.
The Below Deck Season 8 premiere, which aired on November 2, was the first one in six seasons that Kate Chastain got to experience not as a crew member but as a viewer after she said goodbye to the series following Season 7.
Though we imagine that Kate will have a lot to chat to her longtime colleague and good friend Captain Lee Rosbach about as this season of Below Deck continues Mondays at 9/8c, the two hadn't been able to connect after the Season 8 premiere aired, Captain Lee revealed exclusively to Bravo Insider in an interview on November 4. "We’ve been exchanging missed phone calls. She’s called and I haven’t been able to take the call, and I’ve called and she hasn’t picked up," Captain Lee told Bravo Insider via a video call. "So I’m sure in the next day or so we’ll discuss it."
However, Captain Lee did get to see Kate's take on the Below Deck Season 8 premiere in her latest TV gig as one of the co-hosts of Bravo's Chat Room, along with Summer House's Hannah Berner, The Real Housewives of Potomac's Gizelle Bryant, and The Real Housewives of Atlanta's Porsha Williams. "She seems to be having a lot of fun with that," Captain Lee said of watching Kate on the talk show.
In the Bravo's Chat Room episode immediately following the Below Deck Season 8 premiere, Kate empathized with new chief stew Francesca Rubi starting off the season with a whole new crew. "It's definitely difficult. I've done it many times," Kate said. "But I think the general rule of thumb is just make sure the guests have cocktails. And I'm not throwing shade, I'm just saying that's the plan. As long as the guests have cocktails, they'll be happy."
Leading a nearly brand-new crew, with the exception of returning bosun Eddie Lucas, did take some getting used to for Captain Lee. "It was really different because when I talked to [Kate] prior to going down to shoot [Season 8], I would catch myself asking her, 'What flight are you on?' And I went, 'You’re not on a flight, are ya? No, you’re not going,'" Captain Lee recalled. "It’s just weird, 'cause it’s been every year for six straight years."
Below Deck's new chief stew, Francesca, has already impressed Captain Lee with her willingness to step into a role held for so long by such a beloved crew member as Kate. "You have to give Francesca a lot of credit. I mean, she knew what she was getting into, and she knew that she had big epaulets to fill," Captain Lee said. "I think that says a lot about her self-confidence to sit there and go like, 'OK, I can do this. I can handle it.' I commend her for it."
Regardless of who was part of the crew this season, Captain Lee was going to make it very clear that he would not be tolerating the kind of division we saw among the yachties last season. "I made sure that all of the crew knew that from the very first staff meeting that we had. I was not gonna have a repeat of last season. And if I had the slightest hint that somebody was causing those kinds of issues, they would be gone so fast it would make your head spin," he explained. "There was no playing around with that. You don’t have to like everybody, you don’t have to love everybody that you work with, but you will show them the respect that they’ve earned, period. Or you’ll be gone."
Want more Below Deck? New episodes air every Monday at 9/8c or catch up on this season through the Bravo app.