What Below Deck Mediterranean's Dave White Is Cooking Up This Season - Exclusive Interview

The cameras are rolling as we set sail again on the smash hit "Below Deck" spin-off series "Below Deck Mediterranean." This season features an almost entirely new crew manning the ship as it travels through the Mediterranean, including Chef Dave White. Although this is White's first season on the show, he is a seasoned chef. Chef Dave worked in top London kitchens before turning to a life of cooking at sea, though he also runs a seasonally available restaurant based in France.

Chef Dave is not afraid of extreme environments and is always up for the next adventure. He has climbed Mount Everest, competed in professional skiing competitions, and traveled to war zones to help refugees. We sat down with him for an exclusive interview to talk about his adventures in Season 7 of "Below Deck Mediterranean" and the challenges he faces as a chef in a small, ever-moving kitchen below deck.

Becoming a chef

What made you want to become a chef?

To be honest, I didn't have much any other choice. I was a big sports fanatic, but a lot of the options that I took at school, I didn't do too well in. I didn't fit into a lot of the classes that I took; I didn't enjoy them. 

I used to play up at school. I was trouble. I couldn't concentrate. Then I did food technology, and I was just fixed. I loved it so much — the whole practical side of it. That was it. That was the eye-opener for me.

I needed some extra money, so I was washing dishes in a local restaurant at the age of 13, 14, washing pots over the weekend to get enough money so I could go to the skate park and stuff. That was it. I was making sandwiches, helping out all the chefs, and before you know it, they offered me an apprenticeship. I ended up working there five split shifts a week, and then I'd do one day at college, and that's where it all started.

Working on a yacht

What are some of the unique challenges you face being a chef on a yacht?

A lot of the time, [the tough thing about] being on the yacht is the space, especially on the 50-meter charter, which in my opinion is probably the hardest one to do. You've got up to 12 guests, and then you can have up to 10 crew as well. Nine times out of the ten, the galley isn't massive, so [you're] walking into a new galley and not having all the equipment that you're used to working with. 

That was the case on the motor yacht Home. There was literally no equipment. It was a nightmare, and we had to get it in. It was really tough for the first charter. There was very little equipment. I actually brought a lot with me — I brought my own sous vide machine with me. I brought a lot of baking stuff in my big bag actually.

That's the challenge. With the crew and on the yacht, there's a lot more guest interaction, where in a restaurant you're back of house, you're hidden. On a yacht, they could come in at any time, and it's better. The guests want to see you. It's a lot more face-to-face contact.

What's the best part about being a chef on a yacht?

You get great sunrise [and] sunset most of the time. It's the best place to have a coffee in the morning. There's unlimited budgets. You can get some of the best produce in the world — on most yachts, that is. You get to meet lots of different people. You get to meet an amazing crew or whatnot, but in my opinion, I'd probably go for the traveling side of it, and that unlimited budget is awesome.

On joining the cast of Below Deck Mediterranean

What was it like joining the crew of "Below Deck Mediterranean" for its seventh season?

It's been such an incredible journey. All the crew are incredible. It's been brilliant. To be honest, I wouldn't change that much stuff — a little bit. But it was brilliant. I really enjoyed it. It was a great journey. It was a bit of a mental challenge for me, but I got through it. It was tough, but I'm feeling I'm good now anyway.

Does having the cameras around change the way you're able to work?

Yeah. It's definitely quite difficult with the cameras. You get into a rhythm with it. There was sometimes I was dancing around — we were dancing together. You do get used to it, and it does get quite ... "intimidating" is a good word. In the galley itself, there were two cameras, and then we have the live guys who are running around all over the place. When you're trying to cook, especially when the stabilizers go, you've got cameramen and you've got oil and pots of water and fryers and whatnot, it definitely makes it a bit more intense.

On his relationship with Natasha Webb

Going into this season, you and Natasha had previously worked together. Did you have a history with any of the other crew members?

No, just with Natasha. We had that history, but I didn't know anyone else. No.

In Episode 3, you dropped the bombshell that you and Natasha Webb had been in a relationship, and tensions seemed to be running a little high. Has that affected the work on the boat at all?

It definitely made it a lot tougher for me. It was affecting my sleep ... I wasn't getting much sleep, and I was up early because I was trying to do my different sourdough breads, to get them started every morning. The proof always takes a lot longer on a yacht because of the air con — because of the temperature, it's so cold. You have to always get up a good three, four hours before breakfast service.

You were making bread every day for that?

Every day. Fresh bread every day. I'd always make three different types every morning, so I was always up early. That was affecting me mentally. I guess [the tensions were] affecting my work, yes.

Balancing menu limitations

During the season, you took some gambles with the menu — for example, serving octopus for guests who don't usually eat seafood. How do you balance guest preferences when you're building a menu?

I obviously do follow preferences. I always like to try and ... I want people to try stuff. It's a journey for me, and I'm so passionate about cooking, so I'm trying to pass that on. It is difficult when other guests want it, but a lot of time in my experience, when I've sent out, say, seven dishes and then done something different, the guests will sometimes go, "Oh no, actually, I want that," because they don't want to feel left out.

It happens so many times, and that's what I was trying to get across. I wanted them to try it. To be fair, that was actually a seven-course meal. There were so many options — I think we only saw three courses there. There's always options, and there's always something else if someone doesn't like it. I never say no. I'm a yes guy. I always want to give as [many] options as possible so they have a good ride.

Cooking for Ukrainian Refugees

What was the experience like cooking for refugees in Ukraine?

That was amazing. I was there in April — just after the war started was my first stint there, and I did about 10 days then. It was actually freezing the first time I got there in April. It was an incredible journey to see the huge donations we were getting. We had a ton of stale bread delivered, so we were making masses and masses of bread and butter pudding. We were rehydrating it in custard and doing big traditional bread and butter puddings. To see how so many people come together from all over the world to try and help the Ukrainians fight a war that they didn't ask for ... It's so difficult to explain how much gratitude I have to get involved with something like that.

I've recently come back from there. Now it's 35, 40 degrees [Celcius] in this warehouse with 10 to 15 combi-ovens. It's so much going on. It was an incredible experience. Crossing the border into Lviv, there were six air strikes while I was there, and [I was] getting woken up and then going into a bunker and not knowing what's going on.

But the incredible thing that I witnessed was the fact that — I'm pretty sure they're students — they're telling me to go into the bunker, and I'm like, "What about you? You guys have got to go. I'm not going to go and sit in a bunker if you guys are staying up here." I have so much admiration for how they just get on. They're just getting on with it. It's a day-to-day basis for them now. I'm really, really stoked I witnessed it.

Chef Dave's favorites

When you're cooking, what is one ingredient you can't live without?

Flour. You go through a lot of flour with baking. Two ingredients [I] cannot go without, in a basic larder — it's got to be flour, butter, and eggs. It's got to be the three ingredients.

Any particular kinds of flour, butter, or eggs?

I like the standard of 50% flour because you can use that in bread, you can use it in cake bases, roux. You can use that flour for everything because it's not a high wheat content, and then eggs — just fresh eggs. Irish butter is my favorite.

What is your go-to fast food order?

Oh, I love burgers. This is so bad — I do like McDonald's and Burger King, and do you know why? Because it's consistent. There's no expectation. It is cheap, it is bad for you, you shouldn't eat it, but it's consistent. There's nothing worse than going to a good restaurant and being let down about it, so that's my go-to.

Who's one chef you would love to have cook dinner for you?

Anthony Bourdain. I would love to spend even an hour with that man, talking about general life stuff.

What Season 7 has in store

Is there anything about this upcoming season or the one that's premiering right now that you want viewers to know about?

I can't let any spoilers out there, but no, I actually had an incredible season. There's a few times where I get really upset and I have a break. It's tough for me, but I'm not ashamed of that. That's who I am. It's important if you are struggling mentally to talk about it and to let people know about it, even if you're a strong manly man and whatever. It doesn't matter who you are [or] where you come from — none of that matters. It's important: Boys cry too, like I've stated many times, so I'm not ashamed of that.

Is there anything else you want to let the world know or anything we should be looking forward to?

This is going to be an incredible season for everyone to watch, and there's so much that's about to happen — so put your seatbelts on and strap in.

New episodes of Bravo Network's "Below Deck Mediterranean" premiere on Bravo Mondays at 8/7 p.m. CT and are streaming on Peacock.

This interview was edited for clarity.