Although Christine Drake’s first published book was launched on May 4, 2021, she’s no stranger to popularity and fame. The chief stewardess aboard M/Y Home is better known as “Bugsy” Drake from Below Deck Mediterranean. She entered the yachting industry in 2013 and has been a chief stew since 2015. Her nickname, “The Queen of Theme,” makes total sense when you flip through her first book, The Art of Tablescaping, which is a step-by-step guide for creating your own world-class dining adventures.
“Tablescaping and entertaining have always been major passions of mine,” Drake says. “Throughout my career in yachting, I have predominantly worked on heavy charter yachts, where themes and the overall experience of a good tablescape is important in order to create a unique and memorable experience for the guests.”
Her first captain in the industry made a lasting impression. “[He] really encouraged the crew in going all out with themes for the guests, and that really opened my eyes to a world of imagination and creativity. I instantly fell in love with the idea of tablescaping,” she recalls. “And to this day, I always try to instill creativity in my own interior team and encourage them to create unique settings that will ‘wow’ our guests.”
Drake says she’s fully aware that not everyone is naturally creative. “I have worked with a few stewardesses who struggled to come up with ideas or find ways to execute creative themes. It truly is an art, but I believe that there are absolutely ways to improve on the skill with the right knowledge, a couple of key tools, and the belief in ideas — all of which I cover in my book.”
On Returning to Season Five of Below Deck Med
Drake, who has been a recurring cast member on the Bravo show since 2017 (she joined in season two and returned for season five, which aired in 2020), says she’s especially happy with how season five turned out because that’s when she was really able to execute some “pretty fun and out there” themes, which really let her show off her tablescaping talents.
“I was excited that the guest experience and journey that goes into creating theme tables were equally highlighted on the show! It truly plays a huge role in the ultimate charter experience. On past seasons of Below Deck, I feel like the technical work of setting the table and creating the details of the experience were often overshadowed by crew and guest drama,” she observes. “So, the actual hard work that goes into creating the experience behind the scenes didn’t always get the credit it truly deserves.”
Why Her Book Stands Out
Although there are a lot of table-setting and hosting books out there, Drake feels confident that hers is unique. “I explain how to create the luxury tables seen on a superyacht and bring the experience to life in your own home. It translates from the language of a superyacht chief stew to all walks of life, whether you work in hospitality or you’re a stay-at-home mom, it’s relatable and accessible.”
In the book, she goes into detail about how you can create the tables at home, with or without a superyacht budget, and how to repurpose items or use everyday items from around your house to create a gorgeous and unique setting. “These are really actionable tips and tricks because I truly believe that every meal should be celebrated! In my book, I also give insight into the world of superyachting and my journey into the industry,” she says.
The newly published author has always been passionate about tablescaping, entertaining, and teaching, which is why putting it all in a book made the most sense … although becoming an author was a recent aspiration. “It was just never really a thought that crossed my mind. But the more people reached out to me and suggested I put my ideas out there, the more I got excited about executing the project,” she says. “I always love guiding and training new stewardesses/stewards in the industry or on my team. I felt this book was a great way to reach the masses in the yachting world for stews starting out and not knowing how or where to begin when it comes to creating an imaginative table.”
By releasing her first published work onto the market, Drake feels a lot more confident in her skills and says she has found her true calling. “It has given me ideas of different ways I could one day transition out of yachting when the time comes. I would love to have my own events company or training school — or both!”
A Look Behind the Scenes
As part of the book publishing process, Drake says she took her leave to shoot a massive chunk of her book and tablescapes in various Miami restaurants towards the end of 2020.
“It has taken a lot of multitasking and sleepless nights, but when the dream is alive, the hustle is real! I would be working via email and Skype calls after guests had gone to bed on charter, and I certainly had to sacrifice a couple of fun crew nights out in St. Maarten to jump on Zoom meetings with my publishers and editors,” she says, adding that her top priority was still being chief stew, which is why she made sure to give 100 percent. She used her extra hours to get everything else done. “Success is not something that comes easy — you must work for it! But I’m grateful to have been blessed with a ton of energy, so I just keep pressing on,” she says.
To aspiring writers who may also want to write a book, the published author says to “Go for it!” adding, “Always believe in your ideas and the story you want to tell! Trust in the process but know that it requires time and effort. Depending on your topic, keep a little journal of ideas and stories you experience and always take lots of pictures on your adventures — you never know what might spark the idea for a great book! Time management is key to success…. A healthy balance between your job, your personal life, and your side hustle is always important.” Above all, she says, be committed and never give up. It takes a lot of drive and determination, which is required for your dream to work.
More to Come
The TV personality has a few more projects lined up. “I am currently focusing on my life as a chief stewardess with a busy upcoming season. There are a couple of other very exciting projects in the pipeline that I am working on, but not much I can give away just yet!”
This column is taken from the July 2021 issue of Dockwalk.