Kareem El-Ghayesh: Where is the Barbecue Showdown Contestant Now?

Hosted by Michelle Buteau, ‘Barbecue Showdown’ season 3 introduced us to a number of vibrant personalities as they took part in a relatively friendly competition to win $50,000. Among them, Kareem El-Ghayesh stood out with his Mediterranean twist on barbecues and an inspirational story of leaving the comfort of his country to pursue the American dream. His unique flavors won the judges over in the very first round and inspired his fellow contestants to become more adventurous with their grills. Even after being eliminated, he makes a lively reappearance to help out his friend Gerald Vinnett Jr. in preparing the ultimate spread. Following his departure from the show, we can’t help but wonder what the jovial Egyptian has been up to since.

Kareem El-Ghayesh Inspired With a TED Talk

Although Kareem currently resides in Austin, Texas, his professional life began in Cairo, Egypt, where he worked in banking and finance. He visited a friend living in the Lone Star state in 2012 and sampled some barbecue with him. It was love at first bite. Kareem became immediately fascinated with barbecuing and its craft, learning more before deciding to leave his well-paying job and comfortable life behind to build a new career as a chef. After his immigration, he enrolled in culinary school at Austin Community College and worked as a line cook for six years before starting his own barbecue joint, KG BBQ, in October 2022. The establishment flourished as his fusion dishes infused fresh and bright notes in Texan grills with herbs, mint, tahini, and garlic.

Such is the extent of Kareem’s popularity that he was handpicked to be on ‘Barbecue Showdown’ by its producers. Soon after filming, the Egyptian’s story caught the attention of TED, and he was invited to speak at TEDxUTAustin in March 2024. The inspirational talk recounted his journey, struggles, and, above all, the importance of investing in passions. “I have done so many things and I have been accepted and have been shown so much love from the community,” he said in an interview. “So my biggest advice for people, chefs, entrepreneurs, young folks that have this fire within them is to listen. You’re not going to hurt yourself by trying or failing.”

A Series of Sizzling Events

Kareem El-Ghayesh is a member of the American Lamb Board and was chosen to teach lamb cuts to Executive Chefs through a number of events. These included the Hot Luck in Austin, Heritage BBQ, and EEEEEATSCON in Los Angeles, California. During this time, Kareem collaborated with businesses and entrepreneurs such as Gonzo’s Smokehouse & BBQ, as he went on a road trip to Los Angeles, which was sponsored by YETI. May 2024 saw the fusion chef offering a Brisket 101 class in Austin, especially for Mother’s and Father’s Day. He was invited to the Meat Mafia Podcast and spoke about his experiences of pursuing the American dream and paving a road to success.

The busy months of teaching, grilling, and making new friends were punctuated by prominent personalities Joe Rogan and Action Bronson visiting KG BBQ and enjoying a meal with Kareem. The duo talked highly about Kareem and their time with KG BBQ on ‘The Joe Rogan Experience’ and were very impressed with his food and his journey. “I’d seen YouTube videos about him, what an interesting story,” said Joe Rogan on the podcast. “While he was stacking on that tray, I was like, ‘surely there are other people eating with us.’ And the sides, there were so many sides, so much good food. I love when people do stuff like this. The dude is chilling in Egypt and says, ‘I’m gonna move to Austin, Texas, and make barbecue.’”

Kareem Grills Well With Others

The pit master seems to be most at home with fellow chefs and barbecue enthusiasts, quickly making friends as seen in ‘Barbecue Showdown.’ He continues to do so with collaborations and during meetups at fests and cooking events. The Egyptian entrepreneur has even reunited with many of his ‘Barbecue Showdown’ friends, including Gerald Vinnett Jr. and Luis Rivera. He also seems to share a mutually respectful relationship with many of his team members at KG BBQ. “Whether it is butchering or BBQ, the meat industry has always been male-driven, and I have always been respectful of the women who defy that,” he wrote on Instagram, welcoming a new female employee onto the team. “May the wings of Goddess Isis spell its magic on you and our wonderful team at KG BBQ!”

Read More: Barbecue Showdown Season 3: Where Are the Contestants Now?