'Below Deck Med's Chef Ben Sounds Off on Chef Mila and His Dream Cast (Exclusive)
By Brice Sander
Chef Ben Robinson’s time on superyachts might be coming to an end. Key word being "might."
"I think people, they just must assume that all chefs are superheros or something," the Below Deck Mediterranean star tells ET. "I don’t know. I've never really been able to understand how anyone else can justify that position, and the workload and, to be honest, that position should either be rotational, or I should have a sous chef."
The longtime star of both Below Deck and Below Deck Med saved the day this season of Med, stepping in for the final few charters after Captain Sandy Yawn was forced to fire original chef, Mila Kolomeitseva, and after third stew-turned-chef, Anastasia Surmava, asked to go back to her original position. It was his first time back on the high seas on TV since season four of Below Deck.
"I actually am quite thankful for this season's catastrophe in that position," Ben admits. "It really exemplifies how difficult it is, and it’s not a joking matter. You really gotta have your head screwed on, and you've gotta know what you're doing. And it just showed it was a really good exemplification of how good you have to be."
"I think it gave this chef position some justice," he adds.
Ben says he "immediately" knew that Mila was not a yacht chef after going back and watching her episodes, which included her microwaving steaks, serving food straight out of a box and offering up nachos that included zero cheese.
"I was obviously very interested in it and how it all went down with Mila, because I'd heard all of these rumors," he recalls. "Obviously, the crew was throwing around a lot of jokes about her and doing impersonations, so I became quite fascinated with the Mila saga and I did watch it and, obviously, I was horrified."
"To be honest, I just found the whole experience pathetic and I don’t really regard Mila as much as a chef at all," he continues. "She just clearly was completely out of her element. She didn't have any experience, either. So, it's a chosen life. You really need to have that experience in order to be able to do it. It’s a really tough job and I hope she had no idea what she was getting into."
Even Ben, a tenured yacht chef, hit a near-breaking point on the most recent episode, saying the problematic galley -- with broken burners and a lack of organization -- was enough for him to give up cooking for good.
"I'm being accused of taking my frustration out on [the crew]," he notes. "But I just have -- for anyone who is thinking along that sentiment, I would just like to say that if they want to step up to the plate and go fly to France and join a charter boat, and have charter guests arrive in one hour, and crush lunch and then crush the rest of the season with broken burners and a completely dysfunctional galley and situation -- if they can do that without being frustrated then they should go shack up with the Dalai Lama in Nepal."
For now, Ben says he's not making any plans to return to yacht life in the near future, but it’s a "never say never" sort of game.
"Sandy is a great captain, I'd work for her any day of the week," he shares. "That's why I would never really close the door. If she called me tomorrow and said, 'Ben, we really need you,' I'd be on the next plane, probably. So, I really have a lot of respect for her. She has a lot of passion for her position."
"Now, many Below Deck fans find the current lineup to be the near-perfect cast for the franchise, but Ben doesn’t see it that way. As far as his "dream cast" for a season, Ben says Sandy is the only Below Deck Med co-star he'd take; the rest of his lineup includes Kate Chastain as chief stew, Eddie Lucas (last seen on season three) as Bosun and Kat Held (from seasons one and two) as second stew.
"Obviously, there are some characters that are very close to my heart," he remarks. "Something happens when you're doing something for the first time."
He does counter that he could consider his ex-girlfriend, Emily Warburton-Adams of season four, but would likely opt against working with her again.
"I mean if we were in a relationship, yeah, obviously," he says. "But I feel like we've kind of done that and we're both moving forward from there."