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Fatima Ali Remembered by ‘Top Chef’ Veterans

The chef died just a few months after she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer

Jose Sasto and Fatima Ali
Paul Trantow/Bravo

Fatima Ali, the talented Brooklyn-based Pakistani-American chef who appeared on Season 15 of Top Chef, died today. She was 29.

Shortly after filming Top Chef in 2017, Ali was diagnosed with the rare bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma. After shoulder surgery last year, her doctors had declared that Ali was “cancer-free,” but in September, the chef revealed that her cancer had returned. The chef was candid about her treatment and recovery, sharing frequent updates on Instagram, and appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres Show last fall to talk about her health problems. She also wrote two essays for Bon Appetit over the last year: one about how chemotherapy changed her relationship to food, and another about how she planned to live the rest of her life after being diagnosed with terminal cancer.

With a charming personality, playful sense of humor, and knack for folding elements of Pakistani cuisine into her dishes, Fatima Ali was an easy Top Chef contestant to root for. She made it more than halfway through Season 15 and was voted the “fan favorite” by viewers of the show at the end of the competition. Back in October, her Top Chef co-stars set up a GoFundMe page to help finance Ali’s culinary travels around the world, ultimately raising close to $100,000. Her castmates also arranged a group trip to visit Ali earlier this month. When news broke about her death earlier today, her colleagues started sharing their remembrances of the chef and TV star on social media. Here are some of their kinds words about Fatima Ali from her friends:

Bruce Kalman:

Brother Luck:

Chris Scott:

Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins:

Tanya Holland:

Tu David Phu:

Joe Flamm:

Tyler Anderson:

Laura Cole:

Joe Sasto:

@chef.joe.sasto

Host Padma Lakshmi:

And here’s Bravo’s official statement:

Update, 1/28: Bon Appetit has posted another “as told to” essay from Fatima Ali, culled from a conversation last November, about how she planned to spend her days after being diagnosed with terminal cancer. Her final words:

There are days that I’m exceptionally afraid. There are days I sit alone and cry, because I don’t want to do it in front of my family. And there are other days that we all sit down and cry together, because it is such a scary thing. But at the same time, you can’t let that fear cripple you. It’s harder being miserable than it is to be happy.

Read the essay in its entirety here.

‘Top Chef’ Alum Fatima Ali Dies of Cancer [ENY]