By Archana Ram
July 21, 2010 at 06:55 PM EDT

We’re nearly at the halfway point for this season of Top Chef, which also means we’re finally starting to remember names and faces, not to mention sussing out the front-runners. And if you’ve been watching, you know from all the furtive glances that the rivalry has been established squarely between Angelo and Kenny.

The former is a greasy, strategizing New York chef, while the latter is a self-proclaimed “alpha male” from Palm Beach Gardens, Fla. Both seem equally egomaniacal, but so far, it looks like Kenny has the leadership skills (best shown in last week’s group elimination challenge episode) to give him the extra inch.

But it’s not a man’s world. Kelly has something in common with Angelo and Kenny, and it’s not just her ego. She’s proven her talent and quick-thinking, and if you want to get all cynical, Bravo will probably put a female with Angelo and Kenny in the top three. Amanda seems far too jittery, Tamesha is a bit green, and Tiffany is yet to break through. But Kelly has the chops — and isn’t afraid to tell us.

Most everyone else blends into the background for me (Ed? Stephen? Andrea? Who?), but we should watch out for dark horse Kevin, who’s really coming into his own, albeit quietly, as a whip smart and resourceful chef. He made an ingenious fruit kebab for the school lunch challenge, and, last week, he turned accidentally tossed couscous into one of the judges’ favorites dishes. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him progress to the finale.

Check back tomorrow for my recap of tonight’s episode, which features plenty of devious play and outright lies when the cheftestants judge each other‘s food. Juicy!

Who are you liking this season? What do you think of the Angelo-Kenny rivalry? And who do you see cracking the top three?

Photo: Bravo