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'Top Chef': What's that guy's name again?

July 15, 2010 |  3:24 pm

Blue crab Wednesday night's episode of "Top Chef" offered embarrassment at every turn: Angelo awkwardly admitted that he was all-too-familiar with crabs (and not the edible kind); Amanda made an amateur version of canned minestrone soup; chefs flipped over not being able to get the flesh out of their blue crustaceans; Steven made a salad from wilted lettuce slopped with a boatload of dressing; and Angelo suggested that the couscous dropped in a cow pasture could be salvaged.

Sure, the episode had high points too, like Ed's jumbo lump crab with Thai basil mango and cucumber salad (yum!) and Kenny and Angelo battling for control like elephant seals during mating season. But as I said before, the producers would be hard-pressed to match the group dynamic and talent of Season 6.

Even Time magazine is questioning if the show has lost its edge. (Like Josh Ozersky, I'm still having a hard time connecting to the contestants enough to remember all of their names.) In our recent Daily Dish poll, 60% of users agreed that the show had cooled down, 29% said no and 11% just wanted to see more of Ms. Lakshmi regardless of the circumstances.

Wednesday's hour of cheffing fell short for several other reasons, though. The dishes' warm-you-up  "rusticity", as guest critic Patrick O'Connell called it, was an odd pairing for the summertime swelter that's finally setting in here in SoCal. And the outdoor elimination challenge was a gimme compared to last season's campfire cookout -- the new crew got stoves, grills, microwaves, where the others were left to an open flame and sheer will. Yet somehow the Season 7 crew still had trouble pulling off decent dishes.

A couple of the contestants took the tools and ran, though: Andrea and Kelly managed to present perfectly cooked five-spice rubbed grilled pork loin with roasted beets and apples with enough time left over to bang out a lovely little crisp. Kelly going out on the oft-avoided dessert limb showed the will to take a risk, something that Progresso-inspired Amanda and Tim should take heed of. And then there was Kenny's winning hot-and-sour spiced eggplant and Kenny's broccoli couscous, which had Padma the curry stickler pleased. Maybe there's still hope yet.

So, what do you think about Season 7's cast?

-- Krista Simmons

Follow me on Twitter @kristasimmons

Photo: Blue crab. Credit: Steven Morton

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