Former ‘Top Chef’ contestant Fatima Ali dies of rare cancer at 29

Former ‘Top Chef’ contestant Fatima Ali dies of rare cancer at 29

News Staff

Fatima Ali

Former “Top Chef” contestant Fatima Ali has died. She was 29.

Chef Bruce Kalman, who was friends with Ali, broke the news on Instagram Friday afternoon.

“It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer,” Kalman wrote. “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.”

The Bravo “Top Chef” family also confirmed that Ali had passed in a statement to TODAY: “We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer. Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart. We hope that the beautiful memories shared with her will provide comfort to everyone who knew and loved her.”

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Dear friends, I have seen @cheffati grow and blossom every day I walked into the @bravotopchef kitchen. I have seen Fatima’s ambition sharpen over weeks of competition, seen her soar along with all of you. Most of you will read Fatima’s writing for the first time in this @bonappetit piece. Since her diagnosis I have been fortunate enough to get to know her deeper and in a new light. Over these months, I have come to know her family. Her mother has shown me her older writing which is just as poignant. I am pleased to share my friend’s story with you all today. I am so proud of her. I can tell you that in these months I have not only seen her continue to find her voice, but been inspired by her exponentially. I have gotten to know most of her family and in them I see my own. I was in the hospital with her the morning she had surgery months ago and witnessed her courage. The day after my @nytimes piece came out, I went to see her, and she cheered me on by holding my hand from the hospital bed, assuring me I had not flayed myself in vain. I was with her last night as she went in for radiation and she still turned back to smile at her mother and me when the nurse with the wheelchair came. I hope that this year brings her as much as she can hope for. You’ve said on the show that growing up I inspired you. But Fati, now, it’s you who inspire me. Everyday. I love you Fati. Link in bio. #teamfati

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Ali, who appeared on the 15th season of Bravo’s hit reality show, was first diagnosed with a rare type of bone cancer, known as Ewing’s sarcoma, in 2017. Last spring, she revealed that doctors had declared she was cancer free — but in September, she learned it had returnedand that she only had one year to live.

Following the return of her cancer, Ali remained in the public eye and was often visited by friends from the culinary community.

In November, she appeared on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” where she said she hoped to travel and dine at some of the best restaurants in the world with the time she had left. DeGeneres surprised her with a check for $50,000 from Shutterfly to help her achieve that dream.

Fans and other celebrity chefs also jumped to her aid after Ali penned an emotional essay for Bon Appetit.

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Hey guys! Sometimes we need to rally, and this is one of those times. Please help. Most of you have read the beautiful article @cheffati wrote in @healthy_ish about her battle with cancer. Let’s try to help her experience all that life has to offer, from hot pot in Queens to @nomacph It is her dream to live to the fullest and visit as many places as she can with the time she has, let’s help her live it up! Link to the @gofundme page in bio ☝🏽She will receive 100% of the money raised and any money she doesn’t use will go to the Sarcoma Foundation of America to help find a cure! @curesarcoma . https://www.gofundme.com/team-fati . . #teamfati #strength #beauty #fuckcancer

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Ali last updated her Instagram page on Jan. 10, when she gave fans an update on her worsening condition.

“I know it’s been ages since I posted and most may have figured out why,” she wrote. “I’m sick and unfortunately I’m getting sicker. Right now all I need are prayers; prayers that are simple. I hope, because a wish is putting on too much responsibility on the other, that you will somehow find forgiveness in your big heart for whenever I must have hurt you.I thank you a million times over for when you have given me joy. I’ll try to keep everyone updated the best that I possibly can.”

Since the news of Ali’s passing broke, dozens of fans have taken to Instagram to share their condolences with the chef’s family.