"It was a big storm, a big mix of stuff," chef Mathew Shea tells PEOPLE of leaving the crew due to anxiety and a knee injury

By Ana Calderone
July 22, 2021 01:15 PM
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Mathew Shea
Mathew Shea
| Credit: Laurent Basset/Bravo

Below Deck Mediterranean's chef Mathew Shea is on the mend.

The Bravo star, who is a cast member on season 6, is feeling "100%" better since hurting his knee before the first charter of the season, he tells PEOPLE. In the first episode of Below Deck Med, Shea suffered the injury shortly after bringing his provisions on board and asked to receive an MRI — leaving his crew without a chef for a whole day.

"It was an overwhelming moment in my life. I was in pain. I hadn't slept. I had all sorts of outside pressures, and when you don't sleep, it's hard to think," he says. "Looking back on it, yeah, I'm fine with it, but I couldn't watch it with a big group, that's for sure."

"It was a big storm, a big mix of stuff," he adds of the decision to leave temporarily.

The Rhode Island native, who has worked in the yachting industry for years, says his anxiety about the new job likely exasperated his pain. The elevator down to the galley was also broken, causing Shea extra stress going up and down the "windy staircase."

"If that was working, it would have taken five hours off putting stuff away and I could've had time to prep before bed," he explains. "I was literally putting groceries away until 10 at night."

To recover, Shea wore a brace and regularly iced his knee. More recently, "I've been personal training, and I've been going to sessions at the StretchLab, taking care of my body," he adds.

Despite the rocky start, Shea turned things around nicely, with both the guests and the crew raving about his food.

On a more personal level, it's not all smooth sailing for the chef. Shea and stewardess Lexi Wilson have butted heads on more than one occasion this season. "We have very different personalities," is all he'll say of their relationship.

Shea describes his overall experience on Lady Michelle in just a few words: "Peaks and valleys."

Below Deck Mediterranean airs Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Bravo. New episodes drop one week early on Mondays on Peacock.