There have been many acclaimed chefs on Bravo’s Emmy-nominated Below Deck Mediterranean, but only Dave White has climbed Mount Everest and won the British Ski Championships in freestyle skiing. An adrenaline junkie as well as a former Masterchef contestant, White has used his experiences traveling the world to learn international cuisines and hone his craft so that he can thrive in the competitive and intense world of yachting. While his skills in the galley are undeniable, White asked for trouble when he entered the seventh season of Below Deck Med in a secret “boatmance” with Chief Stew Natasha “Tash” Webb. White wanted to let the whole crew know they were dating—after all, Webb insisted they share a cabin together—but Webb wanted to keep things quiet. Her reasons? Not wanting to flaunt their connection in the crew’s faces or hurt her recent ex-boyfriend.
Frustrated by her lack of communication, mixed messages and outright physical avoidance of him, White took things too far and sent Webb inappropriate and cruel text messages on a fateful night out. “Even though I was super upset, there’s no excuse for what I did,” White shared with Decider when reflecting upon his actions, “I feel like I need to apologize to everyone because the way I reacted was disgusting.” White told Captain Sandy Yawn what had happened and, after a talk with Webb, Yawn decided to give him another chance. With White having been granted a fresh start, fans will have to wait and see if White and Webb can work together harmoniously as Chef and Chief Stew only.
Over Zoom, we got a chance to speak to White about his adventurous past, his international travels, who he thinks is the sneaky MVP of this season, and whether he deserved the second chance Captain Sandy gave him.
Decider: It’s safe to say you might be the only Bravolebrity to have climbed Mount Everest. Can you talk about that experience?
Chef David White: Though I hoped to summit, I actually got injured at 7500 meters, so I only stayed the night in Camp One on the top of the North Col, which is in China. The problem with the climbing from the north side is that there’s no rescue team available above 6000 meters. After my injury, I was all of a sudden worried not only about my life, but also about my Sherpa’s life. The Sherpas are the absolute heroes of Everest and were responsible for getting us safely up and down the mountain. Being on the mountain was absolutely incredible, but living and sleeping at such high altitude puts your brain under so much pressure that you almost hallucinate.
Despite the hardships and injury, I was going to go back last April, but I broke my back in December. Now I’m going next April to climb from the south side this time. I’m working with CALM on a plan to break the Guinness World Record for the World’s Highest Dinner Party (currently held at 7,050m). We hope to dine at 8000m on the south side to bring awareness to their organization.
You said, “I’ve cheated death so many times, it’s a joke.” You’ve recently broken your back, but was that your gnarliest injury?
I lost my two front teeth skiing. That was pretty crap. I was on a rail. I’ve been in multiple avalanches and have dug friends out of avalanches. An avalanche is something horrible to witness, and it makes you so aware that mountains demand respect.
I love skydiving. That’s how I broke my back actually. If you skydive often enough, you find it’s quite normal to have malfunctions. On one jump, my parachute didn’t open, and I didn’t get my reserve out quickly enough. I broke my back on the landing because I hadn’t jumped for a while, and I was a bit out of practice. That’s the gnarliest injury I’ve had because it required two spinal surgeries. One was really terrible because they went in through the abdomen. In my other surgery they went in through my back to fuse the lower spine. Also, I got COVID in hospital, which was nobody’s fault. Shout out to Mount Sinai in Miami. They were awesome. I got over COVID and then left to do my rehab in France.
You’re a true renaissance man. You’ve won the British Ski Championships back in 2014. You’ve operated a restaurant in the South of France. What got you excited about the yachting industry?
I’ve done seven, eight years in yachting now. In 2014, I won the medal and that was the peak of my career at skiing, but then on that day, I snapped my ACL and crushed my meniscus. I then had a year of recovery ahead of me. I was living in the mountains at the time and performing my day-to-day job as a chef and as a shadow chef. However, I wasn’t bringing in much money, so I needed funds. Finally, I got a job on a yacht and was able to continue my rehab while earning a good salary. That’s how it all started really.
Captain Sandy says she’s never had a yacht chef with your experience and expertise before. How did she stack up against the other captains you’ve worked for in the past?
Captain Sandy is awesome. I love her to bits. I’ve worked with some incredible captains, and she’s up there. For me, management was key, and she was so brilliant at it. She understood me so well and I really respect that. She just let me get on with my job. There will be times during the season when you can see that she trusts us and will give us a second chance, even if we messed up. She doesn’t give up on people and that’s a real skill.
Over the course of the season so far, we’ve seen you prepare Japanese food, Middle Eastern food, Mexican food and much more. How did you hone your skills?
I did my NVQ (National Vocational Qualification) and was a really young apprentice chef. I started working in kitchens and doing apprenticeships when I was 13 or 14. For a while I was working five days a week and attending college classes. I was grateful to learn so much at a young age. When I was 19, I left the UK and just start traveling. In France, I worked at many different restaurants with incredible head chefs, but it was also important for me to travel the world and try all different types of food. That’s the best way to learn.
In Episode 4, we see you come up with a makeshift tagine. What’s the craziest thing you’ve MacGyvered in the galley?
I’ve had to make sushi without any sushi mat. That was really difficult. A lot of the time, especially when you just join the kitchen, you haven’t been in there before so you have no idea what you’re working with. I just say “yes” to any request and figure it out later. I’m not going to give you any spoilers, but there will be another moment where I have to magically whip up some sorbet, which will be a cool thing to watch. No spoilers though [laughs].
Now, we’re going to start getting into the tougher questions, if you don’t mind.
First off, do you think Sandy made the right call by letting Rayan go?
Captain Sandy was so patient with that. She gave Raygan multiple chances. They constantly communicated with each other, and in the end, Raygan just wasn’t ready to be a bosun. In my eyes, Sandy’s a hero for dealing with that situation so well.
If you could do this all again, would you have insisted that Tash be upfront with the crew about your relationship status at the beginning or would you have kept a tighter lid on things?
Unfortunately, we’ve seen the worst parts of my character shine through. I find it really hard to bottle stuff up. To be honest, yes, I wish we could have gone in with everyone knowing, and maybe it would’ve been different. However, the way it worked out was obviously tough. Honestly, I really wish that I’d never met her before joining the crew. We probably would’ve met and started off with great chemistry. Who knows how it would’ve ended. It’s obviously a shame how things are turning out right now.
I imagine you have a lot of regrets about sending Tash those text messages and how everything went down between you two.
What I did and what I said were completely out of line. No matter how I much I felt ill-treated, I should have never sent her what I did. I’m absolutely gutted by my behavior and wish I could take it back. Even though I was super upset, there’s no excuse for what I did. I feel like I need to apologize to everyone because the way I reacted was disgusting.
Do you think you deserved the second chance that Sandy and essentially Tash gave you?
To be honest, I can’t watch the episode. I don’t know how I came across. I obviously know what happened, but I don’t know. Do I deserve a second chance? I was out of order and it was the second time I slipped up. I was out of order with [deck hand] Jason [Gaskell] earlier in the season. So maybe I didn’t deserve the second chance. However, in the galley, I put in a hundred and ten percent. I respect all the crew, and I am a good crew member. People do deserve second chances, but I feel like that might have been my third.
By the end of the episode, you and Tash were in a good place. You both owned your part in the situation and apologized to each other. What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned from all this?
I don’t know. Maybe not put your heart on the line. Don’t drink too much. Get more sleep. Maybe stay clear of relationships completely. It’s a tough question for me to answer, I’m afraid.
After your “boatmance” experience, did you have any advice for Bosun Storm Smith with his budding flirtation with Second Stew Natalya Scudder?
DW: It’s different for them then it was for Tash and me. They met on board and had chemistry, so it’s really cute. It’s nice to have someone to confide in because things can get intense on the job. I’m all for Storm and Natalya, and I really hope it works out for them.
Who would you say is the sneaky MVP of the season (so far) and why?
My pick is [Second Stew] Kyle VIljoen. He’s awesome for more reasons than one. He’s got such great banter. I wish I could talk like him. His way with words is just incredible. He always looks like shit when he wakes up, and when he comes past the galley, I love to wind him up [laughs]. He’s great at his job. He’s my MVP.
Given your incredible athletic background, are fans going to see you out of the galley at some point?
[laughs] You will definitely see an appearance, at some point. I do briefly get involved with some entertainment for the guests.
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