We’re just about ready to climb aboard for Below Deck season 10 and in preparation, we got to sit down and chat with Chief Stew, Fraser Olender, who shared all about the upcoming season.
While it looks like we’re in for some rocky charters in the coming episodes – full of drama, fires and boatmances-gone-wrong – Fraser Olender seems like he’ll be a source of stability for the crew.
First appearing as Second Stew last season, Olender is headed into season 10 with much more responsibility, taking on the role of Chief Stew.
“Obviously [I’m] so excited [about being Chief Stew],” Olender tells us through a smile. “I’m very, very, very happy about it. I’m so nervous – let’s not get that twisted. I had, and still have, huge boots to fill and a lot of [expectations] to match. So yeah, I was really nervous and I was definitely not qualified enough. I mean, I was qualified – I was already a Chief when I joined, but I didn’t have enough experience. Not for this.”
“So, I was sh*tting myself, but I got through it day by day, step by step,” he says. “And I just kept listening to my gut and just focusing and taking every sort of day at a time. It was mental.”
Fraser Olender will be the first male Chief Stew in any Below Deck franchise
Olender is making Below Deck history as the first man to be cast in the role of Chief Stew, subverting gender norms.
“I think I’m probably supposed to be feeling a lot more pressure,” he says of taking on the role, “but I don’t think that gender in a role has any importance or weight in any way, shape or form. And I don’t think that I could do a better job than anyone, let alone based on their gender. I think if you have your heart in the right place and you have enough passion and drive for the job, it doesn’t matter who you are, what you don’t like, what you’re into, and [you’ve] just got to give it your best go. And I think I definitely gave it my all.”
We’ve got a lot of drama this season, but ultimately, I acted as I acted in the best [way] I could as a chief for the vessel and for the crew.
Olender does his best to build connections with the people around him – but he says that this was ultimately his biggest downfall as a Chief Stew. Throughout the season, Olender struggled to set boundaries with his crew and assert his authority, instead of trying to be everyone’s friend. “I find it very difficult to stand back and be formal in a superior position,” he explains.
“I want to be friends with people. I want to have pals and lads and I want to confide in people and I want to cry on their shoulders. And you have to have that professionalism where you need to dissociate yourself or take a step back,” he says.
“And I found that tough, but I do think that the challenge kind of worked out and I got it, but it definitely did worry me. I was like, ‘Oh God, does that mean I can’t get drunk tonight? Does that mean I can’t have fun? Does that mean I can’t do this?’ But it makes you a better person because you’re like, ‘Actually, great. You don’t need to say that. We don’t do that. You can do it another way.’ But that was the challenge for sure.”
In the face of what appears to be a very dramatic season, Olender learned to just push through and prioritize the job at hand.
“There were some issues, don’t get me wrong. We’ve got a lot of drama this season, but ultimately I acted as I acted, in the best [way] I could as a chief for the vessel and for the crew. And I think that going forward …the best advice I could give myself is to just continue with the job. You had to work to make it a successful season and anything outside of that is not a priority.”
Is Captain Lee leaving Below Deck?
It’s time to face the question on everyone’s mind: is Captain Lee leaving Below Deck after being on the show for 10 seasons straight?
In the trailer for Below Deck season 10, everything comes to a head when Captain Lee reveals that his body can no longer withstand the trials onboard. In the midst of uncertainty, as the Captain seemed to be reaching his breaking point, Olender explains that the crew got very emotional.
“We see some super highs and some super lows this season,” he teases. “And what you see in that scene is a very emotional time for us. And we all cry like babies — it happens and rightfully so. And I think it’s going to be such an amazing season — a season that the franchise has never seen with things that never happened before. I’m really excited to see how it’s going to be interpreted by the public, but I think it [will] be great.”
[There’s] so much romantic drama. More romantic drama than you could fathom.
Will there be any boatmances this season?
Is Below Deck really Below Deck without any chaotic boatmances? Like most seasons of the show, Olender says that the coming episodes will be packed with some particularly rocky romantic endeavours.
“[There’s] so much romantic drama,” he says through laughter. “More romantic drama than you could fathom. Thankfully, I’m not involved, but I’m kind of like, ‘Guys, when are we going to get some people on board that I can start dating? I mean, well, have we all forgotten about me?’”
What kind of challenges will Fraser Olender face as a Chief Stew?
His love life aside, something that’s important to Fraser is being liked. In fact, he reveals that it’s his biggest insecurity. That pain point looks like it will incite some challenges throughout Below Deck season 10.
Once I saw Captain Lee and Rachel, immediately I felt at ease, and I felt comfortable because I knew there was trust
“I’ve got this hideous insecurity where I cannot stand being disliked by anyone. And it kills me inside,” he says. “It’s just not realistic to think that you’re going to be everyone’s favourite – not even favourite – but liked by everyone. And I find that very tricky to cope with. And you’ll see that this season that I wanted to make friends, I wanted to be kind and I wanted to have a good season for myself as well.”
“I wanted this to be a job, but I wanted to have a good time. And I think that I was able to do that. And I’ve got some wonderful friends that have come out this season, so I’m super pleased.”
He really had to face that insecurity heading into this charter season, as he encountered a new boat, new location and new crew.
“You don’t know who’s going to be there before you go,” Olender adds. “So you don’t really know how to think, so you just don’t. But I have to tell you, once I saw Captain Lee and Rachel, immediately I felt at ease, and I felt comfortable because I knew there was trust. I knew there was appreciation [for] my previous work. And I thought, ‘That really has soothed me a little bit.’ So I’m very grateful for them coming back.”
What was Fraser Olender’s worst memory from Below Deck?
During his time on Below Deck, Olender has been faced with many trials and tribulations, but there’s one in particular that has stuck with him.
“Gosh, the worst thing was having a bidet spray into my face. My mouth was ever so slightly open to make matters worse,” Olender says through a laugh, hiding his face in his hands. “And that was pretty dark. And we’ll leave it at that.”
“One of the best was – God, you know, I just love my job and I love seeing the most beautiful coastlines it has to offer. I say that all the time. I love it. I do this because I get to see beauty and I get to create it and it is such a difficult job. But if you can get over that hump, then you’ve just found bliss. And I’m glad that I have.”
[It’s full of] things that have never happened or that people could even imagine happened.
What can fans expect from Below Deck season 10?
This upcoming season will be “something unlike any other previous season,” Olender explains with a cheeky smile.
“[It’s full of] things that have never happened or that people could even imagine happened. And I’m excited for people to see a little bit more of me and my personality and I guess, my insecurities. But to know that I’m not dismissive, cold, nasty, quick-witted – well, I am quick-witted – but, you know, just a little perfectionist with the broom up his bum. But I’ve got a heart and I try and open that and share that with everyone. And I think we have a very warm and wonderful end of season.”
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