Melissa Pappas: Where is the Barbecue Showdown Contestant Now?

Netflix’s ‘Barbecue Showdown’ season 3 featured 9 contestants in an elimination-style barbecue competition to win $50,000. Among the expert pit masters and professional chefs, the Netflix reality show featured a self-taught barbecue enthusiast from Orlando, Florida, Melissa Pappas. Despite her seeming inexperience compared to some of the other contestants, she surprised the judges and even won a head-to-head fish cook-off against Kent Rollins. After her elimination in the fourth episode of the show left many with tears in their eyes, Melissa’s journey since begs further investigation.

Melissa Pappas Continues to Make Mouthwatering Content

A food blogger and social media chef, Melissa Pappas creates and tries out a variety of dishes for her social media followers, often adding humorous commentary and detailed descriptions to go with the enticing visuals. Her love for the culinary arts began after she escaped an abusive relationship at the age of 19. She became fascinated with cooking and barbecuing, a process that became therapeutic for her. The ‘Barbecue Showdown’ participant regularly offers recipes for delectable dishes with a twist. These have recently included smoky spiced banana bread, Ina Garten’s roasted potato leek soup with crispy shallots, pumpkin chai crumb cake, banana nut muffins, reverse sear tri-tip, and grilled hanger steak with sweety drop pepper relish.

“The main thing I want people to know is that when I share a recipe, I’m sharing my journey and my story with each one,” said Melissa in an interview. “I’m sharing in hopes that others feel inspired, encouraged, and capable. Food is absolutely a love language for me, so by cooking for someone, even my online family, I am serving you part of my heart.” On the quirky side, she also has a long-running weird food combos series, which has seen creations and combinations like Oreos dipped in orange juice, peanut butter sandwiches with onions, Doritos and butter pecan ice cream, and a Funyun and peanut butter sandwich. She sometimes collaborates with other influencers like Nikko Gomez from Food on the Spectrum and has many good friends among their number.

Melissa Loves to Travels and Food Blog with Friends

The Orlando resident frequently explores restaurants and specialty food outlets around her city and across the state. In late 2023, she met Justin Renfrow, eating at Madison Avenue Pizza in Dunedin, Florida, where pizza is cooked the old-fashioned way. In December of the same year, her culinary exploration brought her to Sushi BRB, which fuses Asian flavors and Floribbean inspiration. The new year saw her go on a Bahamas cruise with friends for one of their birthdays. Other excursions included the Winter Park Farmers’ Market, the Orlando Foodie Fest with Nikko Gomez, a Food tour of Miami with her besties Rob and Eric, and a long-awaited visit to Sedonuts and Coffee in Sedona, Arizona, where she gorged on rich donuts.

Melissa Balances Her Busy Social and Family Life Well

The mother of two boys is outgoing and gets along very well with others sharing her interests. This included her fellow contestants on the show, who were supportive and helped her learn. “I gained a family of people that I have no idea how I lived without for so long. I also learned so much from everyone and made memories that will stay with me forever,” Pappas told ClickOrlando in an interview. She even met Gerald Vinnett Jr. at Hogs for the Cause 2024, joining his team and making culinary magic together once again. Hogs for the Cause is a non-profit that supports families whose children are battling cancer. Joining Gerald, a regular participant, Melissa seemed to really enjoy the event, saying that it would be something she would always remember.

Melissa celebrated her birthday on June 11 by recreating the ‘Matilda’ cake eating scene, playing the part of Bruce by gorging on a massive chocolate cake with her bare hands but waving a white flag short of achieving Bruce’s iconic accomplishment. She loves to sing and often karaokes in her kitchen on Sundays. She also had the opportunity to stretch her vocal cords by singing as Christine in ‘Phantom of the Opera’ with her two best friends. The chef traveled with her dad in March 2024 to meet their long-time idol, Phil Rosenthal, and his daughter, Lily Rosenthal, getting her cookbook signed by the duo. As the self-taught chef grows in influence and expands her community, we hope to continue seeing more of her in the future.

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