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Captain Sandy Yawn doesn't always have the best luck with chefs on Below Deck Mediterranean. Unfortunately, Season 6 wasn't doing much to turn that around as the crew was left without a chef for the beginning of the first charter when Mathew Shea disembarked the yacht to get an MRI for his knee.
However, Captain Sandy didn't have a great feeling about things from the start after seeing the large amount of provisions Mat had ordered as the charter season kicked off, calling it "a huge red flag" in an interview with The Daily Dish in June. "That shows me the lack of experience on provisioning a superyacht," she explained. "When we are doing back-to-back charters, we don’t provision for a season; we provision for each charter. The amount of provisions that I saw on that truck was very telling."
In a separate interview with The Daily Dish earlier this month, Mat shared his reasoning for getting all of those provisions that first day. "So I think in seasons past, the chefs have always shopped, like, charter to charter. But that initial order, I got a bunch of stuff that went in the freezer for the season. Like meats that I could use for every charter, crew stuff, butters, you know, cases of cream," Mat said, explaining that "it was the only order that arrived the day before the guests did. All the other orders arrived the day of guests."
Lady Michelle's layout also complicated things, according to Mat. "If my walk-in had been in the galley, it would have been a non-issue. But because of the staircases, it really seemed like a lot, 'cause it took forever to get them down there, you know? So, although it was a lot, it wasn't a bunch of stuff that was perishable. A lot of it went in the freezer. So it wasn't like a ton of waste," he said. "But yeah, it was an overwhelming amount, especially for the setup of the boat."
Mat said that if he were to do it again, he would provision solely for the upcoming charter, not for the whole season.
But as we saw, the provisioning ended up being the least of the crew's problems when Mat left the yacht to seek medical attention the next day after a sleepless night in his cabin. "I was in a lot of pain. I hadn't slept. Like, I laid in my bed, and I didn't sleep. And when you don't sleep, it's hard to think," Mat recalled to The Daily Dish. "And then with the cameras and the thought of all the new crew, it was just, I had so much going on in my head that I couldn't think. And I was just, I knew I needed to remove myself from the situation and be alone for a bit, or else I would fail miserably. I just was having a panic attack. And it made the pain in my knee seem worse, 'cause I was so overwhelmed and so tired."
At that point, Mat said that he thought his knee could even need emergency surgery. "But I was freaking out," he said. "Looking back on it, it was so many factors going into it."
With Mat off the boat and with the usual solution of bringing on a new chef not available due to protocols put in place amid the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the crew was forced to prepare dinner for the charter guests that night. Captain Sandy also brought in an assistant chef named Duska from another vessel in the marina that was also quarantining in the bubble to help out with the meal.
"Watching them cook that dinner with the sous chef, Duska, was harder to watch than me having a panic attack," Mat said of seeing the crew make dinner in his absence. "And that meat they cooked in the pan with no oil, that was meant for, like, braising. It was like a slow cook crew meat, not like meant to be seared and sliced. It was awful. And the shriveled oysters with nothing on them. Yeah, I feel horrible. I should have come back that night. When I saw that dinner, I felt bad, and [I] understand why they were upset with me."
When it comes to Duska's help in the galley, Mat said that he would have steered her in a different direction. "If someone had asked me what I think Duska should do, I would have let her look around the fridge and ask her to cook her, like, specialty Croatian dish," he said. "Like, giving her surf and turf was the wrong choice [laughs]."
That definitely proved to be the case when the charter guests later expressed their dissatisfaction with that first dinner to Captain Sandy, calling it "terrible" and "unacceptable." "We're on a megayacht. Sandy, we're not on quarantine; we're on a megayacht. We're on a megayacht," the primary charter guest told the Below Deck Med boss. "It's bulls--t!"
Of course, Mat was sorry to see Captain Sandy receive that kind of negative feedback from the charter guests, especially since it was due to his absence. "I felt bad for Captain Sandy. I mean, it was all my fault," he shared. "And it's so bad. The whole episode was really hard to watch for me."
Looking back on the beginning of this charter season, Mat said that he was "not proud" of his actions. "And it's out there for the world to see. But it happened. I almost didn't come back, I was so overwhelmed," he said. "So I'm just proud of myself that I made it back."
Even though it was physical pain that caused Mat to briefly leave the boat, he said he would have felt a lot worse if he didn't return to the crew and continue on with the charter season. "You only regret the things you don't do. And I'd gotten that far, and I almost bailed. And I just wanted to prove to myself that I could do it. And then I got a little encouragement from friends and family when I called them that day. And they all said, you know, 'We understand if you leave, but we think you'll really regret it,'" Mat said. "So, I tried, I took myself out of my comfort zone, and I think that's really important, even if I failed, you know?"
Although some of his fellow crew members questioned the legitimacy of his injury upon his return to Lady Michelle, Mat said that his knee was still not at 100 percent at that time. "I still wore a brace. I would ice my knee at night. I was in pain. I was putting more weight on the other leg when I went down the stairs," he said. "Like, yeah, it was sore. But it wasn't a complete fake."
Being a yacht chef is an incredibly physically demanding position, after all. "Between, like, 15 and 18 hours a day I'm on my feet, up and down," Mat said. "It's a lot on the lower back. And knees. And feet."
Mat told The Daily Dish that he doesn't have any lingering issues with his knee today. "But I've been doing personal training. And there's this stretch lab that I go to, where they stretch you. I know I should do yoga. It's like the lazy person's yoga [laughs]," he shared. "I just get stretched and do personal training. And I'm feeling great."
The chef opened up more about the start to this charter season during his appearance on Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen on July 19, sharing during the After Show that he felt better after becoming more acclimated to the yacht and working with the crew (clip below). He also said that listening to music during the charter season "really helped relax me."
These days, Mat said that he is feeling much better. "I am doing well. It was, you know, one of the most overwhelming moments of my life, even though I signed up for it," he shared during the WWHL After Show. "The pressure being a chef and the cameras, it was everything at once, and I'm good. I'm in a good place."
Want more Below Deck Med? Season 6 airs Mondays at 9/8c on Bravo with early access to new episodes on Peacock.
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