Times When Below Deck Chefs Really Outdid Themselves

Ileisha Dell
(Photo by: Fred Jagueneau/Bravo via Getty Images)

The chefs within the Below Deck franchise have extremely demanding positions while onboard their respective motor yachts. Unlike other (off-air) chartered experiences, the Below Deck chefs work alone, with no sous-chefs in sight. In addition, these filmed charters are short, so provision lists, food preferences, and dietary restrictions are constantly changing.

As the chef can make or break a charter guests experiences, it’s no surprise these positions come with high stress. That said, many chefs have completely nailed their roles.

Take Ben Robinson from Below Deck Seasons 1-4 and Below Deck Mediterranean Seasons 1 and 4. With his quick English humor, Captain Lee Rosbach and Chief Stew Kate Chastain called Ben the best chef to hang out with, in addition to praising his appetizing, well plated dishes.

Other Below Deck (original) chefs have also stood out for their strong culinary skills, such as Matt Burns from Season 4, Adrian Martin from Season 6, and Dave White from Season 7.

If you can forgive him for his “onion-gate” debacle, Adam Glick from Below Deck Mediterranean’s Seasons 2 and 3 and Below Deck Sailing Yacht Season 1 was also highly praised for his varied, well-plated dishes.

While these chefs have all been stellar (interpersonal issues aside), there have been others who have gone above and beyond the required duties.

These are the times when Below Deck chefs really outdid themselves.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht’s Marcos Spaziani

Marcos Spaziani/Instagram

On Below Deck Sailing Yacht’s Season 3, Chef Marcos Spaziani was tasked with many tall orders. In his galley, he could be seen whipping up a molecular gastronomy feast (despite enduring the loss of his best friend’s mother that same charter), and later, a Celiac disease-friendly multi-tiered cake for an onboard wedding.

Marcos also kept right on cooking when a portion of his scalp was cut off following a run-in with a refrigerator.

Insert several unnamed Below Deck chef’s WHO COULD NEVER here.

While these things all earned him praise, on the seventh charter, Marcos managed to up the difficulty level even more. Here, the primary charter guest requested gluten-free meals while two other guests requested dairy-free. Another two asked for zero shellfish.

These difficult-to-maneuver restrictions would send most chefs into a tizzy. However, Marcos raised the stakes, making a 10-course meal (80 plates).

He nailed it.

Below Deck Sailing Yacht’s Ileisha Dell

Ileisha Dell/Instagram

Arriving on Below Deck Sailing Yacht for Season 4, Chef Ileisha Dell made her intentions clear right out of the gate. “I might look young and small, but I’ve been cooking for 16 years. Don’t mess with me,” she stated.

The eighth charter brought the return of a primary guest named Bryan Guarnieri. Previously, Bryan appeared during Below Deck’s Season 8. Here, Bryan and the other guests demanded so much from Chef Rachel Hargrove that she briefly quit the season.

Bryan boarded this second charter of his with all male companions. The guests were met with a canapé made of Manchego cheese wrapped in a fried sage leaf. Chef Ileisha’s skills shone.

Illeisha, however, remained focused with Bryan onboard. She tackled every ask on his whopping three-pages long preference sheet. First, Bryan desired a 10-course meal of the highest standards.

On this, Ilesha lamented, “Doing 10 courses on Parsifal is brutal. There’s no space, it’s insane to prep, it takes forever to serve, and it means a late night for everyone.” The meal service did not end until midnight. However, the feedback Ilesha received was high.

It doesn’t end here.

For the second night, Bryan requested “a Pride dinner with seven courses, each course to represent a color of the rainbow.” On this, the entire crew got onboard. The colors of the rainbow were utilized everywhere, from the the colors of the cocktails and the food, even down to the servers’ outfits.

From elaborate dishes and drinks to watermelon-shaped unicorns, Bryan is still reeling from the joys Ilesha’s food brought over on his Instagram account.

Below Deck’s Rachel Hargrove

Rachel Hargrove/Instagram

While Chef Marcos and Chef Ilesha present as calm and kind under pressure, Below Deck’s Chef Rachel Hargrove used snappy rebuttals and often inappropriate humor to deflect stressors.

That said, she can cook. Rachel’s generous online sharing of her infamous french toast recipe continues to win her fans post filming. I’ve tried it. Often. It’s a (no regrets) problem.

As she’s appeared for multiple seasons, there are two instances that come to mind when speaking of Rachel’s abilities in the galley.

On Below Deck’s Season 8, Rachel came back from almost quitting over Bryan’s aforementioned demanding food requests. When she walked back into her galley, she rolled out a 10-course dinner that left everyone thrilled.

In Season 9, Rachel ‘s skill sets were pushed. Here, the co-primary charter guest, Chelsea Gonella, was on the mend following surgery. “Due to a recent bicycle accident, Chelsea will be coming aboard with her mouth wired shut and will be unable to consume any solid foods,” read the preference sheet.

Once onboard, Rachel met with Chelsea and her husband Michael. In this exchange, it was explained that all food items needed to be pureed and strained for consumption. It was also made clear that Chelsea wanted to partake in the same meals that the other guests were eating, just in the given pureed form.

Rachel took this task as a challenge, pureeing everything from fruits and vegetables to lobsters, all served in a glass with a straw.

While this may sound simple, it was one of the most challenging Below Deck meals. Rachel explained how a liquid diet doesn’t mean throwing items into a blender. When creating Chelsea’s meals, Rachel also had to add ingredients to help emulsify the food, making it taste like the same dishes her friends were receiving during the charter.

Chelsea didn’t appreciate the delays, but Rachel “DILLIGAF” pulled it off regardless.