Talking with Faye Clarke is a wild experience. Every four or five minutes, she will casually mention another country that she lived in, in another part of the world, while working a completely different career from the one she is doing now. Of course, that’s what probably made Clarke so suited for that current job, the one we met to talk about: as chief stew on the current season of Bravo’s Below Deck: Adventure.
Below Deck: Adventure is the latest spinoff of the network’s hugely popular franchise. Each series chronicles the exploits of the deck crew, service crew, and captain of luxury yachts, as they juggle the demands of temperamental guests with their own interpersonal conflicts.
Like its predecessors, Below Deck: Adventure features plenty of booze- and hormone-fueled drama among the crew. But the show also lives up to its name. These aren’t leisurely charters around the sun-soaked Mediterranean. The superyacht Mercury is navigating the fjords of Norway, with all of its stunning landscape and unpredictable weather. Its crew also isn’t just providing guests with jet skis and a waterslide; they’re going spelunking, hiking, ziplining, and cycling down hairpin turns of a steep mountain.
It tracks, then, that this is the iteration of Below Deck on which Clarke would make her reality TV debut. When we met in New York, she had just appeared on Watch What Happens Live With Andy Cohen, Bravo’s nightly talk show. “I totally didn’t realize it was live!” she told The Daily Beast’s Obsessed, gesturing how she was fidgeting and fussing with her hair during the interview. “I’m doing this to my hair and checking my boobs. Whoops.”
Clarke came to New York from Salt Lake City, where she watched the Below Deck: Adventure premiere with , The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City cast member Heather Gay, who also was a guest on the Mercury. Rather than speaking to Obsessed in a hotel bar in Manhattan, Clarke was meant to be in Miami, to join a boat as her next yachting gig. “I got there, and I was like, ‘I don’t want this job.’ So I came here instead, and now I’m heading home to London.” Her goal when she returns is to devote most of her time running a food truck that serves salt beef, which she purchased using her tips from Below Deck: Adventure.
It’s a cavalier, follow-your-spirit way of living life that has guided Clarke since she was 21.
That’s when she first left the UK, where she grew up, in order to travel. “I had a good job, great family, good friends—everything—but I was always unhappy,” she says. “No matter how much I worked out at the gym. No matter how many promotions I got at work. I always felt like I was in prison. I realized that, I think, my soul was just born in the wrong place.”
She went backpacking through Europe and Asia for a year, before moving to Dubai for six years, where she worked in the business sector. After that, she hitchhiked around Cambodia and Thailand, where she eventually spent a year training to be a Muay Thai fighter. She began working in yachting as a way to travel and make money at the same time. The owner of the last superyacht she worked on encouraged her to audition for Below Deck. When she got the call that she landed the job, in 2021, she was working on a small fishing boat in South Carolina.
“I was happy. I just had the captain and the engineer to look after. I had a fishing rod. I entertained myself. I was safe,” she said. “Then I got the call from Below Deck. I was just like, ‘I’ve just found a calm life, and now I have to go out there again?’”
She initially turned the offer down, but, after sleeping on it, realized that it was a great opportunity to write another unexpected chapter in her life. “And so then I went to cause mayhem.”
With Below Deck: Adventure steadily at sail in its first season, airing new episodes Tuesday nights on Bravo, we got Clarke to spill about her time at sea in Norway and all the ways the experience met—or didn’t meet—her expectations: “To be honest, I built myself up for the very worst. And it was the very worst. I know I can do anything now after this.”
Have you been watching the show as it’s been airing?
It’s been a year since we filmed. That hangs over our heads, I suppose. Like, “How are they gonna edit it? How are they gonna show us? Are they going to show the mistakes?” So it’s quite stressful having it hanging over your head for so long. But now it’s out, and I find it very entertaining. The crew is entertaining and funny. The excursions and scenery are great. I just hate the way I look. I was so tired the whole time.
Even the mistakes make for great TV for the audience, though. Like in the premiere, when there were no plates on the table for brunch. I’m sure that was mortifying in the moment, but it was fun to watch.
On the very last day, I did everything as well as I could. One of the guests wanted an extra poached egg. I was like, Jess [the chef], we need another poached egg. She quickly poached an egg and it came out perfectly round. So she put it on the toast, and I ran to give it to the guest. I stopped, but the egg kept going. It just exploded, like all over the floor. I just looked at the cameraman and said, “Did you get that?” I don’t think he did.
Not everyone has it in them to strap on a backpack and hitchhike around the world How much do you think that background influenced how you were as chief stew this season?
When the producers interviewed me, I had a full face of makeup on and my huge hair. I think they actually thought that I was going to be a very particular, strict chief stew. They did know a bit about my background, but I think there was more on my appearance at the time. I wore a lot of makeup.
But then towards the end, when I did my interviews, they asked, “What kind of chief stew do you think you were?” I said, “I think my background has made me able to do Below Deck: Adventure.” I don’t know many other girls, chief stews, that could have done Below Deck: Adventure. I think because I’ve always been winging my way around the world trying to make things work, bringing things together, bringing people together, scrimping on money—all of that—I think I just brought it all together to create some fantastic charters.
It’s like you were uniquely qualified for this specific show.
I mean, I might not be the best at pouring champagne and this and that, but I’m great at throwing a party, interacting with my guests, and making sure my team is happy. I think that’s because of my background and strength. … So much went wrong on the show. There were so many challenges. I think a normal chief stew would have had a breakdown to see that amount of mess, because there was so much mess.
Heather Gay is a huge Bravolebrity. Did you know her before she chartered the boat? I’m curious what she was like.
I didn’t know her. I think sometimes it’s good, when a celebrity comes on, if you don’t know them too well, because then you can just be yourself. If you know someone really well, you might act differently. So she came on with personality. Very bubbly, very witty, very funny. She says what she thinks. I’ve literally just come from her house in Salt Lake City. I watched the first show with her. Honestly, all the charter guests that I met on Below Deck: Adventure, they all message me. I’ve been invited to their weddings, their birthdays, just generally to go stay with them.
Have you started watching Real Housewives of Salt Lake City now?
I have. It’s not my cup of tea. You know, women just sitting there gossiping… I do that on a daily basis. So watching other women do it doesn’t entertain me, unfortunately. But that’s just the way I am.
Did you talk to any past Below Deck cast members before joining the show? Did they give you any encouragement—or warnings?
I knew Jean-Luc [Cerza-Lanaux, of Below Deck: Sailing Yacht]. I’m very close to Jean-Luc. We were friends before he went on the show. I didn’t bother him too much about it. I did actually reach out to Hannah [Ferrier, of Below Deck: Mediterranean] on Instagram, and she messaged me back straightaway, which I thought was quite nice. She was like, “Good luck. This will be 10 times harder than you’ll ever imagine.”
Oh my gosh!
She wasn’t very positive about it. But I’m the type that, when somebody tells me no, … I’ll do it. It makes me want to do it even more. Reverse psychology, I suppose.
But I did worry for weeks and weeks before, like, “Is this going to ruin my life. Am I going to regret doing anything? Is it going to be too much pressure?” Literally when the taxi came to pick me up at four o’clock in the morning, I was about to say to him, “You know what, turn back, go back to bed. I’m not going anywhere.” I was that nervous.
The scenery where you guys are sailing is unbelievable. What was that like, to have that be the thing that you look out to?
It made it all worth it, basically. There were the waterfalls that we were going past. We woke up in the morning and just saw the views of the green grass. The bright blue sky was just like magic. It was magical. And we were the only boat on the fjords. We never saw one other boat the whole time. It was like we had the whole of Norway to ourselves. Usually when you work in the Med and stuff, you’re surrounded by yachties and boats. But we were just so secluded.
How does Norway rank against other places where you’ve worked on boats before?
So different. I love everywhere where I work, but this was definitely one —it was fresh. You know? Like, you actually want it to breathe it in. It’s fresh. It was crisp. It was, like, clean air. That’s something I’ve really remembered about Norway.
It’s so beautiful there.
Yeah. It’s like you’ve got a new set of eyes. Like, the green is greener than you’ve ever seen before.
Given everything you’ve already done in your life, has Below Deck: Adventure influenced your feelings about what you want to do next?
Yeah, it did. It made me realize that I just want to go home and hibernate and never do anything. I have so many things on my bucket list and targets or goals to achieve, and I achieve most of them. I’ve never been on TV. Everyone kept telling me I should, so that was a huge thing to tick off my bucket list.
And then one of my end goals was my food truck. I’ve always wanted my own food truck. With all the tips that I had from Below Deck, I bought my food truck. So I have that now back in the UK. I’ve gone back to my roots in the East End of London. I’ve got my van, and I’m just going to do yachting here in there to get a bit of extra cash.
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