Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi has shared a touching tribute to her friend Fatima Ali, who died on Friday after losing her battle to a rare form of bone cancer. She was 29-years-old.
Ali was a contestant on the 15th season of Top Chef.
She was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2017 and, after the removal of a tumour, was found to be cancer free in July of 2018. But in October, the cancer returned and Ali was told she had a year to live.
At the time Ali, affectionately known as Chef Fati, announced the news in a powerful essay for Bon Appetit, revealing “the cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone.”
In a video on Instagram, Lakshmi shared several beautiful photographs of the pair and of Ali.
“Goodbye lil’ sis,” Lakshmi captioned the video. “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 know I’ll be different, and, despite the worry that settles into me every time I wake up, I look forward to meeting that woman one day. #teamfati”
On her Instagram, Ali’s family remembered her as “bright and young and vivacious” and gave their eternal thanks for the unending support they received from friends, family, and strangers.
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.
You can read their full tribute below.
Fellow Top Chef contestant, Bruce Kalman wrote on Instagram: “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.”
Tu David Phu, who also competed on Top Chef wrote: “I’m struggling to accept your passing. You had so much more to offer. However, there’s one thing I know for sure #god now has another #angel. You are truly an #inspiration. Your strength has taught me so much.”