Fatima Ali, ‘Top Chef’ star, dead at 29; Padma Lakshmi grieves

“Top Chef” alumna Fatima Ali has died at the age of 29.

“We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer,” Bravo told USA TODAY in a statement. “Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time.”

The network continued, “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.”

Ali was diagnosed last year with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma, shortly after competing on Season 15 of “Top Chef” in Colorado. Ali finished seventh on the cooking reality competition and was voted fan favorite. 

The New York City chef underwent chemotherapy and surgery in January 2018 to remove a tumor from her shoulder bone, with “Top Chef” host Padma Lakshmi by her side. By summer, she told People she was “technically cancer-free.”

More: ‘Top Chef’ alum Fatima Ali with terminal cancer motivates ‘bittersweet’ reunion with cast

But in October, Ali revealed in an emotional essay that her cancer has returned “with a vengeance.” Ali said doctors told her diagnosis was untreatable and terminal. She was told she only had a year to live. 

She said at the time that she suspected “I won’t last very long.”

“They think I’m brave, but really, I’m not. I’m scared,” Ali wrote. “There’s a faint feeling deep inside my gut like a rumble of passing air, ever expanding and filling slowly until, one day, I’ll pop.”

But Ali also said she has come to terms with her terminal diagnosis: “An odd sense of relief has settled inside me, knowing that I can finally live for myself, even if it’s just for a few more precious months.”

Her last post on Instagram was January 10. Ali acknowledged it had been “ages” since she had 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.”

Her TV family took to social media to grieve.

“Goodbye lil’ sis,” Lakshmi wrote in a Twitter video tribute set to Carole King’s “So Far Away” late Friday, after announcing that “due to personal reasons” she was canceling a planned Facebook Live session.

Lakshmi wrote: “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 look forward to meeting that woman one day.’ ”

“So sad to hear of Fati’s passing,” tweeted Tom Colicchio Friday. 

Fellow “Top Chef” star Bruce Kalman shared a tribute on Instagram. “It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer,” he 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.”


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