Mathew Shea Sets The Record Straight On Why He Nearly Left Below Deck - Exclusive

As Season 6 of "Below Deck Mediterranean" has progressed, the longtime Bravo hit's jovial crew of big personalities and bigger appetites for destructive drama has coalesced around a common cause. As fans of this show know, that means toeing the line between charter guest volatility and always keeping on the right side of Captain Sandy Yawn. This time around, though, it wasn't exactly smooth sailing even from the get-go; new cast member Mathew Shea nearly ended his tenure as top chef of the Lady Michelle before it even began, walking off the boat with a bad knee and a worse headspace before the vessel and "Below Deck Med" had even left port.

"There were some outside factors going on in my head," Shea said of the incident that dominated the early narrative of the show's sixth outing. In an exclusive chat with Nicki Swift, the Rhode Island native and seasoned veteran of fine dining operations the world over told us more about where he was at on that rough day one, where he went when it all went haywire, and what his sense is of holding it down as chef going forward as "Below Deck Med" keeps on cruising.

Chef Mat on "Knee-ding" some time away

When we asked Mathew Shea about his initially rocky outing as a chef aboard the Lady Michelle for Season 6 of "Below Deck Mediterranean," he grimaced a little at the memory of walking off the show before it even began. "Nothing's like you plan it," he told Nicki Swift of his expectations for his first day aboard. "No matter how many times you see something." Shea said the logistical difficulties of loading in provisions in cramped quarters and with a tighter schedule than he'd predicted were overwhelming, and when he aggravated a knee injury, it led him to step away and seek medical attention.

But where did he go? "They brought a GoPro, but they wouldn't let that into the MRI room," Shea said of the camera crew during his trip AWOL. "And I hadn't slept in like 36 hours, so when I laid down in the machine, I fell asleep. They had to wake me up. And that 15 minutes felt so good." Refreshed from his unlikely bit of shore leave, Shea felt ready to re-engage with chef-ing on "Below Deck Med." "I was like, 'I need a night,'" he said of his time away. "I got some pep talks from people over the phone and I'm glad I was able to go back."

Episodes of "Below Deck Mediterranean" air on Mondays at 9pm ET/PT on Bravo. New episodes will drop one week early on Mondays on Peacock.