States throughout the Southeast offer a number of culinary meccas. They include places like Miami, Atlanta, Charleston and Savannah. All of them have their own celebrity chefs and superstars.

But one local cook bested others from five states, winning a shot at the Southeast Regional Chef of the Year title. Chef James Flack, executive chef de cuisine at Echo, a restaurant inside the King and Prince Beach Resort on St. Simons Island, was selected as a semifinalist for the contest.

“I was nominated by our local chapter of the American Culinary Federation. I found out about a month and a half ago. They sent me an email letting me know I was chosen to compete,” he said. “Whoever is selected from these goes on to compete in the national competition.”

Flack will find out if he’s one of the contenders this weekend. He is traveling up to Charlotte, N.C., to take on one dish for the judges during the two day event.

“We got assigned (ingredient) bone-in lamb loin. We have to make a signature dish and a menu. So I’m putting together a dish,” he said. “I’m putting together all my ingredients. You cook all your foods at Johnson & Wales University. You go and cook your dish in front of certified master chefs.”

The winner, from there, goes on to compete on the national level and win the $5,000 prize as well as the title. That event will take place at Disney World in Orlando in July.

But Flack is committed to taking the process one step at a time.

“There are a lot of chefs and restaurants in our five state region. It’s really exciting and humbling,” he said.

Flack has been a chef at the King and Prince for the last four years and is looking forward to representing the area.

“I’m originally from Columbus, Ohio, and I moved here when I was two. I grew up here,” he said. “It’s pretty cool to be representing the area.”