You can smell the competition here in Sonoma.
It's the scent of beef, and yes, it's what's for dinner. And in my case, breakfast and lunch.
I'm one of several judges at the 2009 National Beef Cook-off, a biennial contest second only to the Pillsbury Bake-off.
Fifteen home cooks from across the country are competing Wednesday, including 16-year-old Natalie Benthin, of Grass Valley.
Benthin is among five teenagers competing in one of the categories, "Teens Cooking with Beef" (full disclosure: given our story about Benthin in today's Food & Wine section - which I began reporting and writing before I was asked to judge the competition - I won't be judging the teen category).
Follow this link to see my story on Benthin.
At 7:30 a.m. tomorrow, the other judges and I will be whisked off to a secret room, where succulent creations will be brought in to (hopefully) please our palates.
Several cash prizes are at stake in the three categories. First place winners receive $10,000 and second place winners take home $5,000. The "Best of Beef" grand prize winner also will take home $25,000.
Now that's some moo-la.
I'll be blogging and tweeting as much as possible from the competition. To see my tweets, follow me @SacBeeMomme.
To watch the competition unfold via Ustream, go to the National Beef Cook-off Web site.