When one member of the Top Chef family is hurting, everyone feels it. Season 15's Cheftestants and judges have come together to support Fatima Ali as she battled Ewing's sarcoma, a type of bone and soft tissue cancer.
Of course, learning about Fatima's cancer diagnosis last fall was a blow to all of the Season 15 contestants, including Chris Scott, who got to know and love her as they spent their days cooking alongside each other in Colorado. "It crushed all of us because Fati's like family to us," Chris recently told The Daily Dish during an interview at his Brooklyn restaurant Butterfunk Kitchen (clip above). "Once she came out and told us her situation, then we all really, really felt for her, and it crushed us that she was going through the chemo and going through such emotional and physical pain. We all rallied close by, and she knew that she could count on us for anything, anything, anything, anything."
Chris added, "Don't be ashamed, don't be afraid. We've seen each other at our worst, we've cried together, we've laughed together already, so there's no shame in it, and we're there for her."
Chris will be putting those words into action when he teams up with fellow Season 15 Cheftestants Adrienne Cheatham and Tyler Anderson for a special event at Tyler's Millwrights Restaurant in Simsbury, Connecticut on March 25. The trio will prepare a five-course dinner and cocktail hour with all of the profits to be donated to The Sarcoma Foundation of America in Fatima's name.
After going through four rounds of chemotherapy at the end of last year, Fatima underwent surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in her left shoulder in January. The surgery was a success with the tumor and surrounding cancer cells removed entirely, and Fatima was declared cancer-free.
Now as Fatima continues to undergo cancer treatment, she's getting back into the kitchen. She'll be cooking with Tyler, and their fellow Season 15 Cheftestant Bruce Kalman, as well as famed chef Elizabeth Falkner, to cook up a lunch at the 11th Annual Pebble Beach Food & Wine event in April. "So she's back in the mix," Chris told The Daily Dish. "She's gonna be cooking, and that was wonderful news."
— Additional reporting by Macy Daniela Martin