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The Daily Dish Below Deck Mediterranean

A High-Profile Guest Has Major Complaints for Captain Sandy: "This Is What You Give Us?"

Below Deck Mediterranean guest Gigi Fernandez isn't impressed by Chef Johnathan Shillingford's first dinner. 

By Sophie Vilensky

As we've learned time and time again across the Below Deck franchise, every group of charter guests presents a unique challenge. From groups with intense dietary restrictions to night owls that prevent the crew from getting some rest, being flexible — as well as the general flexing of skills — is so important.

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Watch Below Deck Mediterranean on Mondays at 9/8c and next day on Peacock. Catch up on the Bravo app

Unfortunately, Chef Johnathan "Jono" Shillingford was reminded of exactly that during Season 9, Episode 3 of Below Deck Mediterranean, when one of Captain Sandy Yawn's very impressive friends came on board as a guest and had a lot to say about the chef's food. 

Prior to the guests boarding, Sandy shared details with some of the crew members about the primary charter guest. 

Who is Gigi Fernandez?

"Gigi Fernandez is a 17-time grand slam doubles champion," Sandy explained. "Two different times she won the gold in the Olympics. I actually had her as a charter client and we became friends after that. I had a great charter with them, and now they're coming back."

Sandy also explained that on the last charter where Gigi was a guest, the chef at the time crafted a seven-course experience for every meal.

"[Gigi's] expectations are high," she said. "I think you'll be challenged. They're used to getting whatever they want when they want it."

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Where to Watch and Stream Below Deck Mediterranean Season 9

Chef Johnathan "Jono" Shillingford reacts to "pressure" from guest Gigi Fernandez 

Even before the guests came on board, Jono knew he had to pull out all the stops after seeing their preference sheets. 

"I don't know if I really have that much exposure to a group having this much varying preferences," he said. "I've never worked at a restaurant. I have an Olympian with high-end taste coming on board. It's a lot of pressure ... Sometimes I don't even feel like a chef, I really do feel like a designer. And then I'm like, 'Oh, I cook.'"

Things got off to a rocky start when Jono decided to cook the guests chicken for their first dinner on board, and Sandy wasn't thrilled. 

"The expectation of a Mediterranean charter is five-star food. Gigi has traveled the world. She has dined in some of the finest restaurants. Chicken is really not something that you serve on a super yacht," explained Sandy.

Captain Sandy Yawn talking into a walkie talkie onboard the Mustique yacht.

Charter Guests Weren't Impressed With Chef Jono's First Dinner

While some guests were fine with the meal (one even gave the dish a thumbs up), others were less than impressed with the "seared tender chicken breasts in a coconut lemon sauce" they were served. Jono had said it was cooked "perfectly," but the seasoning was overpowering to the group. 

"It's just too much. Too much rosemary," said Gigi, while others didn't even finish the entrée.

"Everyone's quiet at the table, and coming from someone who proclaims very loudly every time they love food, I just feel like it's usually not great if people aren't wowing from their seats," said chief stew Aesha Scott.

When she asked guests their thoughts, one said the meal was "decent."

Next came dessert, a "deconstructed sponge cake" which Aesha herself wasn't thrilled with.

"Sponge cake?! The most boring out of all the cakes!" she said. "This is like poop on a platter. He made me serve chicken and then I've gotta get them sponge cake? I'm gonna be the face of all this sh-t."

The next morning, after the guests failed to wake up for their scheduled breakfast time, they were served eggs that had been sitting out for over an hour.

"The eggs were cold," the Olympian whispered to Sandy after breakfast. "These people don't want to complain, but I mean, last night's dinner ... chef's choice and this is what you give us? And when you call something deconstructed, it just means it didn't work out. It was not good. And then lunch had some spice I couldn't place, it was completely overbearing. But I have a high standard."

Will the next meal have a better reception? Tune in for Season 9, Episode 4 on Monday, June 24 to find out.

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