Fine swine

Published 6:01 pm Thursday, March 3, 2011

Justin Hembree (left), Eddie Staley (middle) and Eddie Smith of Fast Eddie's Fine Swine competition cooking team show off a trophy they won. (photo submitted)

Tryon manager Hembree doubles as BBQ pit-master

When Tryon Town Manager Justin Hembree is not running operations for the town, he is most likely preparing swine.

Fine swine, that is.

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Hembree and Eddie Smith formed Fast Eddie’s Fine Swine competition cooking team last year. The two met while students at Appalachian State University.

The team recently won third place overall in their first competition of this year at the Bands, Brews & BBQ in Beaufort, S.C. Fast Eddie’s Fine Swine placed third overall, second in pork butts and 10th place in pork ribs.

“We were very pleased with our finish in Beaufort,” Hembree said this week. “It seems that we have our technique for pork dialed into what the judges are looking for. We still need to work on our ribs, but, all things considered, we are very excited about our start to the season.”

Bands, Brews & BBQ is a benefit cook-off for the Friends of Carolina Hospice that was held on Feb. 25 and Feb. 26. Last month’s competition was the first on the 2011 South Carolina Master Barbeque Award Cup Competition Series.

Hembree and Smith’s next competition will be the Bordertown BBQ Cook-off on March 25 and March 26 in Clover, S.C.

And soon, they will enter their first Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival, which is held annually at Harmon Field as the North Carolina State Barbecue Championship.

Hembree said he and Smith decided it would be fun to enter their team in the 2010 Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival this year.

“After that event last June, we were hooked,” Hembree said.

The team enters competitions sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the Memphis Barbecue Network and the South Carolina Barbecue Association.

Hembree accepted the Tryon town manager position in 2009. A native of Mitchell County, Hembree currently lives in Hendersonville, N.C.

Smith currently serves as the City of Kannapolis deputy city manager.

Hembree and Smith say they understand the importance of serving their communities and are committed to addressing community needs through participation in competitions that benefit worthwhile causes. They volunteer cooking for fundraisers, festivals and deserving charities.

“Although winning is fun – very, very fun – Eddie and Justin understand that their calling is much more than winning trophies and ribbons,” states the team’s website.

Fast Eddie’s Fine Swine competed in eight competitions last year and has 16 scheduled for 2011, including the Blue Ridge Barbecue Festival. Although the team has not yet won a grand championship, Hembree and Smith have placed in the top 10 several times in ribs and finished second in “People’s Choice” awards twice.

“I like the care that goes into producing good barbecue,” said Hembree. “People can tell when you put time and care into what you are doing.”

The team’s slogans include, “Bringing fine swine to the people,” and “You’ll dig our pig.”

Visit for more information on Hembree’s team.