Full Cast of Barbecue Showdown Season 3: Contestants & Judges In 2024 Episodes (Photos)

By David Thompson Posted:
Barbecue Showdown Season 3 contestants

Featuring fresh faces and smoked slices, get to know the new contestants and returning judges for 2024's Barbecue Showdown Season 3.

Barbecue Showdown is back on Netflix, bringing together contestants from across the nation for a high-stakes barbecue cook-off. 

Each episode presents unique challenges that test their culinary skills, with surprise restrictions, various meats, settings, themes, and tight time limits.

Participants are equipped with an array of smokers, grills, rotisseries, ceramic eggs, and a variety of meats, vegetables, and ingredients to create their dishes under pressure. 

This season features contestants showcasing diverse styles and backgrounds, including Tex-Mex, Cajun, Jamaican, and Egyptian cuisine.

Barbecue Showdown Season 3 Cast

Gerald Vinnett

Gerald Vinnett in Barbecue Showdown.

Gerald Vinnett, the owner of Big Papi's Smokehouse in Destrehan, Louisiana, won a $7,500 grant (per NOLA.com) from Kingsford Charcoal’s Preserve the Pit program back in 2021. 

Operating primarily as a one-man business since November 2020, Vinnett’s passion for barbecue, especially brisket, drove him to perfect his craft, despite working full-time as an engineer. 

He now takes his talents to Gay, Georgia for Barbecue Showdown Season 3, looking to be named "American Barbecue Champion".

Kareem El-Ghayesh

Kareem El-Ghayesh in Barbecue Showdown.

Kareem El-Ghayesh, an Austin, Texas-based pitmaster originally from Egypt, is one of nine contestants on Season 3 competing for a $50,000 prize. 

El-Ghayesh left his corporate finance job in Cairo to pursue his passion for Texas-style barbecue, blending Egyptian flavors into his dishes at his food truck, KG BBQ. 

Despite the challenges of transitioning careers and the rigorous filming process, he cherishes the camaraderie formed with fellow contestants and emphasizes the importance of passion and resilience in following one's dreams.

Kent Rollins

Kent Rollins in Barbecue Showdown.

Kent Rollins is a cowboy and cook dedicated to preserving the historic Western way of life. With nearly 40 years of experience, he began by guiding and feeding cowboys in New Mexico before expanding into cowboy catering with his 1876 Studebaker chuck wagon. 

Based in Oklahoma with his wife Shannon, Rollins avoids the term "chef," and prefers cooking on traditional tools like cast iron skillets and his cast iron wood stove, "Bertha." 

Before Barbecue Showdown Season 3, Rollins was also known for defeating Bobby Flay on Throwdown! with a chicken fried steak.

Luis Rivera

Luis Rivera in Barbecue Showdown.

Luis Rivera, also known as Meat Papi, is a Venezuelan-born barbecue enthusiast who left his government job to pursue his passion for smoked meats. 

He moved from Chicago to Dallas, where he now serves his unique barbecue bowls at Outfit Brewing restaurant. 

Rivera, who incorporates elements of his Venezuelan heritage and diverse culinary influences into his dishes, is hoping to become the champion of Barbecue Showdown.

Melissa Pappas

Melissa Pappas in Barbecue Showdown.

Melissa Pappas, before discovering barbecue, was a special education teacher in Orange County, Florida, serving children with intensive autism and behavioral needs for nearly seven years. 

Per The Daytona Beach News-Journal, she has received several awards from the Florida Department of Education. However, since 2020, Pappas has been sharing her love of food, developing recipes, and creating content as "Sweet Melissa Cooks." 

She decided to focus entirely on her culinary passion, embracing barbecue and Florida flavors on Barbecue Showdown Season 3.

Shaticka Robinson

Shaticka Robinson in Barbecue Showdown.

Shaticka Robinson, executive chef, owner, and pitmaster of Coley's Jook Junt food truck in Nashville, Tennessee, is bringing 15 years of culinary expertise to Barbecue Showdown Season 3. 

Known for her innovative approach to Southern cuisine, Robinson learned the art of BBQ from her parents at a young age. 

Her participation in the competition highlights her rising prominence in Nashville's vibrant barbecue scene, where she serves up unique dishes like smoked oxtail and smoked crab cake sliders.

Sloan Rinaldi

Sloan Rinaldi in Barbecue Showdown.

Sloan Rinaldi is the owner of Texas Q, a renowned craft BBQ establishment based in Kingwood, Texas. 

As a fourth-generation pitmaster and proud Texan, Chef Rinaldi is celebrated for her innovative approach to traditional Texas barbecue. 

Her journey into the barbecue world began through competitions and her signature line of barbecue sauces, earning widespread recognition both locally and nationally. 

With a passion for pushing the boundaries of barbecue flavors, Rinaldi is committed to earning a top spot on Barbecue Showdown Season 3.

Staci Jett

Staci Jett in Barbecue Showdown.

Staci Jett, a seasoned culinary professional and contestant on Barbecue Showdown Season 3, brings a wealth of experience rooted in her upbringing and passion for scratch cooking learned from her grandmother. 

Alongside her role as head cook at Staci's Hog Heaven, she is recognized for her skills as a butcher, processing deer for local hunters for over ten years. 

Staci has showcased her talent on notable cooking shows like Travel Channel’s American Grilled Louisville and Food Network’s Chopped Grillmasters, where her personality and spicy cooking style have earned her acclaim in the competitive barbecue scene.

Tung Nguyen

Tung Nguyen in Barbecue Showdown.

Tung Nguyen is an accomplished chef and entrepreneur taking his strong background in the culinary arts to Barbecue Showdown Season 3.

Coming from a family immersed in the restaurant industry, Nguyen has established successful ventures such as Slow & Pho and Roch & Claude in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he focuses on blending Asian flavors with classic Texas-style barbecue. 

Kevin Bludso

Kevin Bludso in Barbecue Showdown.

Returning as a judge in Season 3 is Kevin Bludso, a chef and restaurateur renowned for his expertise in Texas-style barbecue. 

After a career as a correctional officer, he opened Bludso's BBQ in Compton in 2008, becoming known for his pitmaster skills.

Despite challenges, including a closure in 2016, Bludso has expanded his culinary empire with restaurants in Hollywood and Melbourne, Australia.

Melissa Cookston

Melissa Cookston in Barbecue Showdown.

The second judge for Barbecue Showdown Season 3 is Melissa Cookston, a prominent figure in the world of barbecue. 

As a seven-time world barbecue champion and owner of Memphis BBQ Company in Horn Lake, Mississippi, Cookston has carved out a reputation as a trailblazing female entrepreneur in the food industry. 

She is also an accomplished author with two cookbooks, Smokin' in the Boy’s Room and Smokin' Hot in the South, and has been featured on national news and cooking shows, including appearances on Food Network. 

Barbecue Showdown Season 3 is now streaming on Netflix.

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- About The Author: David Thompson
As an editor, writer, and podcast host, David is a key member of The Direct. He is an expert at covering topics like Marvel, DC, Star Wars, and business-related news following the box office and streaming.