so i’ve recently become obsessed with chopped and in an ep i watched last night, one of the contestants had a crush on one of the judges and it got me thinkin’ about a ziam au (i know, you’re shocked) where zayn is one of the judges - he’s a very respected chef and owns a couple of restaurants across the US, but he’s currently employed at the one in nyc that he co-owns with his best mate niall. he’s written a few cook books as well as a murder-mystery novel that he wrote under a pseudonym. he’s a fan favourite - his good looks, multiple tattoos, and edgy style undoubtedly being a few of the many reasons why.
and then there’s liam. he’s got quite a reputation in LA because of his nice, fun demeanor and his delicious tacos - he has a taco truck that he parks right by the beach - and he spends his free time surfing and visiting his best friend louis’ tattoo shop. he also walks dogs on the side to make a little extra cash.
liam finally makes it as a contestant on chopped and can’t wait. he watches the food network religiously and has dreamed about going on the show for years. his favourite judge is zayn - he’s even made a trip to new york JUST to go to his restaurant (and he definitely wasn’t hoping to bump into zayn there, nope. he definitely didn’t go four times in one weekend. DEFINITELY NOT!). ok, so liam might have a bit of an obsession and louis never fails to make fun of his lil crush. but now it’s a reality that LIAM is going to be in the same BUILDING as ZAYN MALIK. he’s going to be PREPARING FOOD and then zayn is going to be PUTTING THAT FOOD in his MOUTH. liam is going to be within a few feet of zayn malik’s MOUTH. the thought makes him a teeny bit nervous but mostly excited.
when the crew came by his taco truck to film his intro vid (the one they play while introducing the contestants) he made sure he wore his batman apron because he knows zayn is a bit of a comic book geek and this might make him stick out - or something like that. i mean, that’s completely rational thinking, right? it makes sense in his head. they also film a short bit of him surfing which he thinks is cool.
anyway, fast forward to the day of the show. liam’s prepared - he’s confident (but not cocky) and he’ll consider it a win even if he loses because zayn malik will have tasted his food and will be aware of his existence, even if it’s just for a few minutes. ok, so that might be a little creepy. to justify it in his head he thinks that anyone would feel like this around their idol……right ? of course!
so then you have it from zayn’s perspective - another episode of chopped, another fun day of trying ridiculous creations. he loves every second of it, if he’s being honest. it’s fun to see what these chefs come up with and he’ll try anything. the wackier and the more creative, the better.
before the show they do a little rundown on the contestants so the judges have a bit of insight before they start filming. one of them catches his eye (a guy named liam payne) because wow - he’s cute. really cute. is that a batman apron?? and what..he surfs? oh, he’s shirtless. oh no. oh no no. this is bad. zayn rarely finds the contestants attractive (ok, so it happens more often than you’d think) but he always keeps his cool - he’s really good at that. he’s a PROFESSIONAL, after all. but something about this guy makes him think it’s going to be harder than usual.
so, they’re in the kitchen and the contestants are brought in one by one. and of course liam’s even more attractive in person. OF COURSE. as the first basket’s ingredients are revealed, he looks at liam’s arms as he reaches into the basket. notices his tattoos and his muscles. he’d be lying if he said he wasn’t internally rooting for this liam guy to do well. but he can’t be BIASED !! **HE’S A PROFESSIONAL**
back to liam’s point of view - he’s got a plan and think he can make something great with these ingredients. he knows zayn likes things extra spicy so he’s gonna spice it up as much as he can. he knows he should care about the other judges opinions but at the same time, zayn’s opinion is the one he cares about the most.
so the time is up and his dish is ready. his presentation is a bit off but overall he think he came up with something great. he’s glancing at the other contestants and really only one of them looks like it could be better - some guy with curly hair named harry’s dish.
so now is the moment of truth - the moment where zayn finally tries his food. the contestants line up before the judges and coincidentally enough he’s placed right in front of zayn (or was it fate?) and oh no, zayn is looking at him. he’s like - seriously looking at him. is he staring? is he making all this up in his head? is he dreaming? he almost pinches himself but then comes to his senses.
he explains his dish and watches as zayn gets a fork-full of food. he’s pretty sure time slows down as zayn brings the fork to his mouth. eventually the food makes its way inside zayn’s mouth and liam’s so entranced by zayn’s lips and jaw that he thinks he might faint. ok, so it’s not that bad (it totally is)
zayn swallows and directs a comment to liam about the amount of spice in the dish and how it’s a perfect mixture of heat and flavour. liam knows his face lights up as he says “thank you, i know you like it spicy” and then he almost facepalms because WOW that was SO CHEESY - did he really just say that out loud ???
but zayn smiles his crooked smile and responds with an “oh yeah?” and liam just nods like an idiot.
the rest of the judges say stuff but to be honest, he can’t really focus on them. zayn just COMPLIMENTED his cooking. zayn smiled at him. zayn talked to him. wow. life is amazing.
the judges taste the other contestant’s dishes - one person left a main ingredient out which is never good. the other’s wasn’t fully cooked. the person whose dish liam thought looked decent (curly’s dish) got good remarks as well so he was sure the two of them would at least make it through. he was confident he wouldn’t get chopped.
as they’re ushered off into the sideroom for the judges to make their decision, harry comes up to him and formally introduces himself and compliments liam’s dish. liam smiles and shakes his hand and tells him that his presentation was the best. harry blushes and thanks him and liam decides he likes this guy, wouldn’t mind it coming down to the two of them in the final round - the dessert round.
they’re brought back out and are given the whole ~who is on the chopping block~ spiel. the dish is revealed and phew, it’s the dish that was undercooked. he gives harry an encouraging nod and a thumbs up and harry smiles in response. they made it to the next round.
liam looks at zayn real quick and notices zayn looking at him. zayn bites his lip and smiles at him - it definitely happened. zayn just BIT HIS LIP while STARING at him. and liam’s thinking that there’s NO WAY he is going to lose this competition.