It is with a very heavy heart that I report the news to my fellow Top Chef fans that Fatima has died after a long, painful fight with a rare form of bone cancer. Last night, as I was beginning my latest Top Chef recap, I felt a feeling of loss regarding Fatima. I began my post asking for prayers for her. It was like I knew what was happening and then dismissed the thought because I didn’t want to think about it.
It became evident about a week ago that the end was near. Nearly all of the Top Chef cast had rallied to her bedside to say their farewells. Many of her fellow chefs, and Padma Lakshmi, came to her side when she was diagnosed and continued to check on her through her fight. Padma was very close to Fatima and has cancelled her live chat on Facebook today “for personal reasons.”
Chef Bruce Kalman a fellow contestant on Top Chef season 15 (Colorado) kept us up to date on his visits when he shared, “We all came together, flew in from as far as Alaska, to see this beautiful lady, and got to have some laughs with her. We love you so very much @cheffati #teamfati #4ever #topchef #family #fuckcancer” He also provided an update today, “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 episode discussing football, stadiums, and Taylor Swift. Much love, Bruce 😘 #fuckcancer #cheffati #topchef #friends #family #itsnotfair”
Fatmi was told that she only had a year to live, and it turned out that was much longer than reality. I believe she survived on six months. Before she was hospitalized for the last time I believe she did get to go to some of the finest restaurants she wanted to go to, but she had so many more on her list. As a chef, it was her love for food and experiencing other cultures that was her passion.
Fati charmed everyone as the first Pakistani-American on Top Chef and was voted the resounding fan favorite. Her diagnosis, in 2017, just a couple of months after filming ended was devastating not just to her friends, family and fellow chefs, but to viewers who only knew her from her Top Chef appearance. She was only 29 when she was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer, Ewing’s Sarcoma, that is generally only found in white, male, children. She thought she was in remission after chemo and then in September of 2018 she was told the cancer had metastasized and she only had a year to live.
Fatima had been a professional chef since the age of 18, working in NYC and at one time running a food truck, VanPakistan in addition to working in many restaurants in NYC along the way.
I hope that our prayers last night delivered her into the hands of God and she is finally at peace and looking down at the outpouring of love from so many people. This is a tough one for Top Chef fans.
Fatima Ali was 29.
The video below of Fatima on her favorite show Ellen will give you a good insight to her fighting spirit and should inspire us all to be positive and make the best of our situations.