'Top Chef' Star Fatima Ali Passes Away At 29 After A Prolonged Battle With Cancer
January 28, 2019 14:01 By Fabiosa
Just this year, we have already said final goodbyes to many great stars. On Friday, they were joined by the Top Chef contestant Fatima Ali. She was only 29.
A short but colorful life
To us, Fatima is best known as a contestant in season 15 of Top Chef. Cheerful, vibrant, and a master of her trade, she was voted Fan Favorite.
Her dream was to open Pakistani cuisine to America and the world, but her life was cut short by Ewing’s sarcoma, an uncommon type of bone cancer.
The young chef was first diagnosed with the disease back in 2017 and underwent surgery to remove a tumor from her shoulder bone. Sadly, in October 2018, Fatima announced that the cancer was back and that she wouldn’t last long. In the announcement on Bon Appetit, she said she was determined to make the most of the time she had left:
I am desperate to overload my senses in the coming months, making reservations at the world’s best restaurants, reaching out to past lovers and friends, and smothering my family, giving them the time that I so selfishly guarded before.
Fatima succumbed to the disease on January 25. In her last moments, she was surrounded by her nearest and dearest.
Fellow Top Chef contestants and others who knew Fatima personally posted tributes to her on social media. Her family posted this parting message on her Instagram account:
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.
Colleagues and other people who knew her also paid tributes and expressed condolences to the family:
Incredible sad news but what an inspiring young woman: „When we think we have all the time in the world to live, we forget to indulge in the experiences of living. When that choice is yanked away from us, that’s when we scramble to feel.“ #FatimaAli https://t.co/75Ir3VP8u8— Marion Pfennigs (@GERinPAK4youth) January 26, 2019
RIP Fatima Ali, Pakistan’s “Top Chef,” who died today after a long battle with cancer. We belong to God and to Him we shall return. pic.twitter.com/fwqJN0VRHj— Jeremy McLellan (@JeremyMcLellan) January 25, 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
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 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
Rest in peace, Fatima! You’ll be remembered for your cheer, openness, and your extraordinary cooking – something you loved most and were so good at.