'Top Chef' Contestant Fatima Ali Dies From Cancer at 29
‘Top Chef’ contestant Fatima Ali died Friday at the age of 29, her family confirmed on her Instagram. Ali was voted “fan favorite” on season 15 of Bravo’s cooking competition show. She placed seventh in the competition.
Her family wrote on her Instagram:
Fatima was at home with us, surrounded by her loved ones and beloved cat Mr. Meow, when she left us in the early hours of the morning. When someone as bright and young and vivacious as our Fati passes, the only metaphor that seems to fit is that of a star—a beacon in the darkness, a light that guides us, on which to make wishes, from which to weave dreams. For all the comfort and beauty they offer us, stars, too, are impermanent. This morning a great one was snuffed out.
Though she’s no longer here with us, her spirit will continue to steer us. We hope that you, too, will listen to her lessons: Live your life as she did—to the fullest. Pursue your passion; spread love and joy; be kind and forgiving; be generous; enjoy every morsel—from humble street food to decadent fine dining; cook for the people you love. Travel the world and seek out adventure. Help others and don’t be afraid to take the road less taken. Fatima will always be a part of us, and in fact if you look deep enough, you may find your own inner Fati. If you’re lucky enough to find her there, trust her, listen to her, because she will change your life for the better.
We’ve learned a great deal over the course of her illness, not only pragmatic lessons we wish we hadn’t needed to learn about her disease and our health system, but about the immense love of which people are capable; about the power of being true to yourself; about how we can be better if we model ourselves after someone like her.
We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our now broken hearts. We’re eternally grateful for the unending support, love, and generosity shown by people along the way—from random strangers we passed on the street who would tell her how much they admire and respect her; to all her doctors and nurses who did their best; the chefs and hospitality friends who are now part of our extended family; and the big wigs that reached out to see how they can make her dreams a reality. This has been a truly humbling experience for us all and even in her last chapter as she began to leave us, Fatima showed us how we should live.
In January 2018, Ali underwent chemotherapy and surgery for Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. Ali revealed in September that the cancer was back. Doctors told her it had metastasized and she had a year left to live. In an essay for ‘Bon Appetit,’ Ali wrote:
The cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone. My oncologist has told me that I have a year to live, with or without the new chemotherapy regimen. I was looking forward to being 30, flirty, and thriving. Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose.
Ali said she wanted to spend the rest of her time eating at the world’s best restaurants. Fans and friends shared their condolences and memories with Ali on Twitter.
Goodbye lil’ sis. One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky…. I have no words, but here are some of hers: “I dream of being better. I dream of being myself again, but I know I’ll never quite be the same, and that’s okay. I look forward to meeting that woman one day.” pic.twitter.com/JThpUIbtk7
— Padma Lakshmi (@PadmaLakshmi) January 26, 2019
It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer. I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever. I’ll always remember the great times we had, especially our interview during the tailgating e… https://t.co/GYTQWMwfvT pic.twitter.com/72uWNxL3g8
— Bruce Kalman (@chefbkalman) January 25, 2019
We are deeply saddened to hear the news that Fatima Ali lost her courageous battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with her family at this time. People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart. ???? pic.twitter.com/pKoZG7BDIk
— Bravo's Top Chef (@BravoTopChef) January 25, 2019
I’ll share some words told to me by Chef Fatima Ali, “Life is short and fickle, and you have to embrace it full force.” A wonderful philosophy from a vibrant, talented woman. RIP, Chef Fati.
— Tiffany (@MissTiffanyTiff) January 25, 2019
Ughhh, fuuuuuuuck cancer. RIP to my favorite Top Chef competitor ever, Chef Fatima Ali. She was so great. pic.twitter.com/OvnKjUyvSk
— Vince Mancini (@VinceMancini) January 25, 2019
Photo via Twitter