The Wellington crew was in need of a chef following Hindrigo "Kiko" Lorran's departure in the last episode of Below Deck Mediterranean. So, Captain Sandy Yawn got right to work to quickly find someone to step in in the galley before the next charter began.
But when Captain Sandy heard that Malia White's yacht chef boyfriend, Tom Checketts, would be stopping by to see his girlfriend on the way to visit family back home in the United Kingdom, the Below Deck Med boss sat down with him upon his arrival to offer him the open position in the galley in the August 10 episode.
"Your resume to me is what I've always wanted. You worked your way up. You were a sous chef and then you were formally trained. You did Michelin Star. The part that sticks out for me, because obviously you were a head chef on an 80-meter. Huge difference than this boat is that you were a sole chef on a 50-meter, and you were able to cook for 12 guests," Captain Sandy told Tom in her office. "I'm asking you, could you help me out this season?"
Tom agreed to serve as The Wellington's new chef, and Captain Sandy thanked him for stepping in to help her and the crew out. "I am so grateful, and I cannot wait to see what you can do," she told Tom, who wondered during an interview in the episode, "What the f--k has Malia gotten me into this time?"
However, he also admitted, "If you overthink it, you'd never do anything, so you just kind of go for it and work it out while you're there."
He also told Malia that he was just happy to be able to spend more time with her. "[I’m] a little bit nervous, but nice to work with you again," he shared. "That's the important thing."
Earlier in the episode, Malia remarked in an interview how difficult it is to be in a long-distance relationship in yachting. "It's extremely hard to maintain relationships on boats. Like when we first met, we were in Fiji. We knew each other for like four weeks and then I was in New Zealand, he was in England, all over the globe," she said. "It's like when you can get time together, it's amazing."
We also learned that Bugsy Drake’s sister was actually something of a matchmaker for Malia and Tom. “So, they were all working together on a boat, and Tom was really interested in Malia,” Bugsy shared in an interview during the episode. “So [he] spoke to my sister about it, and my sister was cabinmates with Malia and hooked the two of them up.”
When Captain Sandy announced to the whole crew that Tom would be stepping in as chef, everyone seemed excited to have him part of the team. "I'm just really, really grateful because the timing couldn't have been better," Captain Sandy said.
Hannah Ferrier was similarly happy to welcome Tom aboard, although she said she also had her reservations about his hiring. "The good thing with Tom is that he seems to have a lot of experience," Hannah said in an interview during the episode. "On a personal level, I know that if I have an issue with Malia, I'm also gonna have an issue with him. If I have an issue with him, I'm also gonna have an issue with Malia. So I foresee trouble on the horizon."
During the dinner out with the crew that night, Tom revealed that he had worked with Gordon Ramsay in London, and he spoke more about his culinary background in an interview during the episode, sharing that he has "had very classical training.” His mother even cooked for the Queen Mother, and his father, who Tom said struggled with alcoholism and who he has not seen since he was young, was a chef lecturer.
“I think that’s what my mum saw my future as, and she essentially said, like, ‘If you’re gonna be a chef, you have to do it properly,’” Tom said in an interview during the episode. “And so I did it properly.”
It wasn't long before Tom's arrival caused some drama among the crew. With her boyfriend now on The Wellington, Malia hoped to rearrange the cabin assignments to sleep in the same room as her man. Their fellow couple on board, Rob Westergaard and Jess More, also expressed interest in sharing a cabin. However, that would mean Hannah and Bugsy would have to room together, which neither of them were too keen on, given how smoothly everything had been going between them this season.
Hannah told Malia that she did not want the cabin assignments to change, over which they had a disagreement. Captain Sandy ultimately settled things and decided that Malia and Tom would be staying in the cabin that Kiko had been occupying with Rob. “Tom just did us a favor. At the end of the day, the chef gets to pick his cabin because chef has rank over everybody downstairs,” Captain Sandy explained during an interview in the episode.
Despite this bit of drama, Tom seemed ready to get to work on The Wellington during his first preference sheet meeting with Malia, Hannah, and Captain Sandy. Welcome aboard, Tom!
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