Fatima Ali, 'Top Chef' Contestant Who Wrote Emotional Essay on Living With Terminal Cancer, Dies at 29
Fatima Ali, a New York City chef who competed on "Top Chef" and won "Chopped," died Friday at the age of 29.
Ali penned an emotional piece in Bon Appetit last September revealing she had been diagnosed with terminal cancer and had just a year left to live. She had previously thought she had beaten the disease, but then doctors found new masses.
"I was looking forward to being 30, flirty, and thriving," she wrote, referencing the beloved mantra from "13 Going on 30." She detailed what she planned to do with her remaining time, writing, "Guess I have to step it up on the flirting. I have no time to lose."
She spoke candidly about her fear of dying and the importance of not wasting what time she has left.
"... Every day is an opportunity for me to experience something new," she wrote. "I used to dream of owning my own restaurant. Now I have an ever growing list of the ones I need to visit."
The first Pakistani woman to win "Chopped," Ali accomplished much in her short time and is remembered by her competitors as not just a rival but a friend.
“It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer," wrote fellow "Top Chef" contestant Bruce Kalman on Instagram. "I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever."
Just last week, Kalman and other "Top Chef" alumni gathered in Los Angeles to offer comfort to Ali in what would be her final days.
“I wish (it were) under better circumstances that we were together but when one hurts we all hurt and we rally. @cheffati is loved beyond belief and we will be here for her and each other," contestant Claudette Wilkins captioned a pic of the reunion on Instagram.
"Thankful my kids got to meet them yesterday to see how funny and comfortable we are with each other."
Meanwhile, Bravo said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened" to learn of Ali's death.
"People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart," the statement read. "We hope that the beautiful memories shared with her will provide comfort to everyone who knew and loved her."
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