Barbecue Showdown Season 3: Where Are the Contestants Now?

Season 3 of ‘Barbecue Showdown’ pitted nine contestants against each other in a variety of barbecue cook-offs that tested everything from their searing and smoking to their glazing and seasoning skills. The humor of host Michelle Buteau, coupled with the critiquing offered by judges Kevin Bludso and Melissa Cookston with their refined taste buds, elevated this installment as well. The eclectic group of challengers showcased their skills and compelled the judges to make incredibly tough decisions that came down to splitting hairs. With the season concluded and the contestants headed home, their fanbase would be eager to learn about their endeavors since their departure from the series.

Shaticka Robinson Now Runs Her Dream Barbecue Food Truck Business

Hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, Shaticka Robinson is a professional chef who expressed her enthusiasm for grilling on the show to the fullest with the best ingredients and resources she could gather. Her dishes had a Caribbean panache, and her journey culminated in the final round against Gerald Vinnett, where her dream of having her own barbecue joint was briefly fulfilled. Upon winning the $50,000 cash prize and returning home, the mother of 5 got busy with manifesting her plans of having her own barbecuing brand.

Robinson was a real estate agent before she began cooking for Tennessee University State – ARAMARK Higher Education as an Executive Chef. She is now the proud owner of her very own barbecue food truck business called Coley’s Jook Junt, with its menu featuring the dishes that won her the finale. Under its banner, she has introduced a gluten-free Rib Rub mix and started a merchandising brand called Bougie Barbecue. The single mother found love in Duane Robinson in 2013. The two are very supportive of one another and bring up their five children with attention and care.

Gerald Vinnett Jr. is Working Towards Big Papi’s Smokehouse

The runner-up of ‘Barbecue Showdown’ season 3 poured his heart into the challenges and made us privy to his touching history with barbecuing. A full-time employee with Entergy as a Gas Turbine/HRSG Team Lead, Gerald Vinnett Jr. nurtures his passion for barbecuing during his time off or on weekends. The Saint Rose, Louisiana, native has actually been working on his own eating joint called Big Papi’s Smokehouse since his college days in 2013.

Although he isn’t able to cook full-time, the pit master opens stalls during fests and events while also taking up catering jobs. Such is his dedication to cooking that he was presented with a Kingsford Preserve the Pit grant worth $7,500 in 2021. Gerald, a father of two, lives a hearty and socially active life in Destrehan, Louisiana. He quickly bonded with many of the show’s contestants, including Kareem El-Ghayesh, Luis Rivera, and Tung Nguyen, and even hung out with them since then. He participated in Hogs for the Cause 2024 with Melissa Pappas helping out his stall, and seemed to have had a great time surrounded by his barbecuing community.

Sloan Rinaldi Continues Making Delicious Grills at Texas Q

Among two of the contestants handpicked by the producers to compete on the show, Sloan Rinaldi is a 4th generation pit master based in Houston, Texas. When grilling on the show, the 60-year-old was actually recovering from hip replacement surgery and expressed that it took everything she had to go head-to-head with the other chefs. Despite this, she impressed the judges and decisively won two intense rounds, tearing up as her confidence grew.

Rinaldi is an award-winning chef, but she only joined her family profession at the age of 50 and worked in commercial construction for 32 years prior to that. She took a major stride on her barbecuing journey in 2021 by opening her own food truck, Texas Q, which would be parked in the Houston suburb of Kingwood. Rinaldi was close to and inspired by her father, who passed away in 2021. She continues to cherish the memories and teachings he inculcated in her. She seems to enjoy spending time with family and watching football and treasures each day with her adorable fur babies. The proud lesbian woman works out frequently and fancies a trip to her local craft barbecue joint, Truth BBQ.

Kareem El-Ghayesh Recently Gave an Inspiring TED Talk on His Journey

A native of Cairo, Egypt, Kareem El-Ghayesh won our hearts as well as the first challenge of the show with his delightful enthusiasm and Egyptian twists on Texas barbecue. He made a wholesome return to the final episode of season 3 as he helped out his friend Gerald Vinnett in the finale as his sous-chef. The Egyptian initially worked in finance and banking in Cairo and developed a passion for barbecue when visiting a friend in Austin in 2012. Shortly afterward, he quit his job in Cairo and began working at Kerlin BBQ, making specialty barbecue kolaches. Following his time on the show, Kareem returned to running his restaurant, KG BBQ, which he opened in October 2022, after having served as a line cook for six years.

The restaurant is known for its fusion dishes, such as the pomegranate-glazed pork ribs and brisket rice bowl. Kareem’s fame for his work made him the second contestant, along with Sloan Rinaldi, to be picked by the producers of ‘Barbecue Showdown.’ Since then, his inspirational story has captured the attention of many, and the fusion chef was invited to give a TED talk about his journey and experiences. The fusion restaurant owner is very social and has met up with a number of his fellow participants from the show since its conclusion. He even hosted celebrities Action Bronson and Joe Rogan as they enjoyed a crispy bite and hung out.

Staci Jett is a Family Woman with a Booming Catering Business

The butcher and caterer from Brooksville, Kentucky, took the judges by surprise in the fourth challenge of the show and won the round with her well-seasoned proteins and delicious sides. The 46-year-old is a tough and competitive chef and is the 2021 Reserve Grand Champion Bacon of the World Food Championships. You may also recognize her as the winner of Travel Channel’s ‘American Grilled’ and as a competitor in Food Network’s ‘Chopped Grillmasters.’ When she is not competing, hunting, fishing, or spending time with her family, Staci is taking on large food orders as a part of her catering business, Custom Creations Catering.

After having spent time practicing and participating in so many competitions and TV shows, the caterer and author can prepare just about any type of food requested by her clients. She is also the brand ambassador for Prostaff Kysek Ice Chests and gave an interview to WKYT, which aired on July 4, 2024. The interview also featured her husband, Ted Jett, who runs his own car tinting and customization business. The handsome couple have three precious children of school-going age who they love spending time with, so much so that Staci Jett was already missing home after three weeks on ‘Barbecue Showdown.’

Melissa Pappas Continues to Dazzle with Her Cooking Content

Based in Orlando, Florida, Melissa Pappas is a teacher turned food content creator and recipe developer. She began her cooking journey as a form of therapy after escaping an abusive relationship at the age of 19 and has since become a self-taught chef who shares new recipes and cooking tips online. Melissa left her 9-to-5 profession in 2020 to do what she loved. “I took a leap of faith, you know, this year, and stepped away from the corporate world to really pour into doing my own thing,” said Melissa on ‘Barbecue Showdown.’ “You know, I’m doing content creation and recipe development. It’s another way for us to come together as a family, and I really love and appreciate those moments.” The mother of two boys can often be seen collaborating with local businesses and influencers while cooking up a storm of diverse dishes at home.

Kent Rollins Carries on the Legacy of Cowboy Cooking

The charming and witty Kent Rollins is an esteemed Hollis, Oklahoma-born cowboy who preserves traditions and a historical way of life. The veteran is a popular personality and has a YouTube channel with over 3 million subscribers, captivating viewers with stories of cow camps, outdoor cooking, and verdant backdrops to his grilling sessions. Rollins was titled the Official Chuck Wagon of Oklahoma by the governor of Oklahoma in 1996 for his efforts in preserving the state’s historic way of life. He has appeared on TV a number of times, including on ‘Throwdown! with Bobby Flay,’ ‘Chopped Grill Masters,’ NBC’s ‘Food Fighters,’ CBS’ ‘Sunday Morning,’ ‘Chopped Redemption,’ and ‘Cutthroat Kitchen.’ The preserver is usually traveling across the country with his beautiful wife, Shannon, making informative videos and feeding the hungry along the way.

June 2024 brought about a series of unfortunate events for Rollins. His best friend, Bonehead, the beagle, passed away, and his home was destroyed in a wildfire raging across Lincoln County and Ruidoso, New Mexico. Despite grieving himself, the philanthropist asked his viewers to consider donating to the Humane Society of Lincoln County, which takes care of abandoned pets and evacuated them from the region. He posted a dedicated video about Bonehead, recounting his unmatched qualities and highlighting memories of the true companion.

Luis Rivera Rodríguez Started His Own BBQ Business

Venezuelan-born and raised in Chicago, Luis Rivera Rodríguez is a pure enthusiast when it comes to barbecue. With the show’ having further amplified Luis’ love for grilling, he moved from Chicago to Dallas, Texas, to start his very own barbecue business. He partnered with Outfit Brewing and became their resident chef, pairing their beer with hearty and affordable fusion bowls under his own brand, Meat Papi. Luis also seemed to have become close friends with many of the other contestants on the show and was seen hanging out with Tung Nguyen, Melissa Pappas, Kareem El-Ghayesh, and Gerald Vinnett. You can find him living out his dream at Outfit Brewing between Thursdays and Sundays, quickly selling out sizzling grills with a bright smile.

Tung Nguyen Continues Building His Chain of Restaurants

Tung Nguyen is a multi-restaurant-owning chef from New Orleans, Louisiana, who actively works at St. Roch Market and is building his latest brand, Roch and Claude. The ‘Barbecue Showdown’ participant has a panache for seafood and often prepares crawfish, crabs, and lobster for bustling crowds. 2024 has already seen him win two medals in cooking: second place at the NOLA Wine & Food Experience and third place at Hogs For The Cause. Both organizations are nonprofits that the ethnically Vietnamese chef supports. Hogs For The Cause provides relief for families whose children are battling cancer, and it was at one of its events that he met Gerald Vinnett years ago. The two reunited once again on the show and are now buddies for life.

Read More: Where Was Barbecue Showdown Season 3 Filmed?