clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

‘Top Chef’ Alum Fatima Ali Dies of Cancer

The New York City-based chef said in September that she had a year to live

Fatima Ali Paul Trantow/Bravo

New York chef and recent Top Chef competitor Fatima Ali died Friday, just months after she announced that she had only one year left to live due to a rare cancer. Pakistan paper Dawn reports that the Pakistani-American chef’s family confirmed the news, and fellow Top Chef contestants have been posting remembrances.

Ali wrote in Bon Appetit in September that she only had one year to live after the bone cancer Ewing’s Sarcoma had returned, saying that she had started making reservations at big restaurants and saying goodbye to friends and family. But by January, she posted an update to Instagram saying that she was getting sicker.

The chef from Karachi, Pakistan, moved to New York at age 18 to pursue a career in the restaurant industry, living on the Upper East Side and working at restaurants like Italian restaurant Stella 34 Trattoria and upscale tapas spot La Fonda Del Sol. She also had a Smorgasburg food vendor called VanPakistan, which sold food based on the cuisine of her hometown. She competed on Season 15 of Top Chef in Denver and ultimately received the “fan favorite” designation.

Ali was diagnosed at the end of 2017. By 2018, she was writing about how her relationship to food had changed following surgery and chemotherapy, and she still mentioned opening a restaurant. The cancer returned in fall of 2018, and doctors told her she had one year to live. Friends and fans started raising money so she could experience some last meals, and Ellen DeGeneres obtained $50,000 for her. Remaining funds will be donated to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, according to the GoFundMe.

Bravo published an obituary for Ali, with a statement on Top Chef’s Facebook that said the show was “deeply saddened to hear of the passing.” Earlier today, Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi had planned to host a Facebook Live that was canceled due to “personal reasons,” with fans commenting with condolences for Ali’s death.

Update: January 25, 2019, 4:15 p.m.: This article was updated to include a public statement from Bravo.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for the Eater New York newsletter

The freshest news from the local food world