Bravo's Top Chef Season 15 Fan Favorite winner Fatima Ali has died. She was 29 years old and had battled bone and soft tissue cancer known as Ewing's sarcoma. Since announcing in October that her diagnosis was terminal and doctors had given her about a year to live, she inspired fans with her personal mission to indulge in life's great sensory pleasures, so easily taken for granted.
In an essay she penned for HealthyIsh on the heels of her diagnosis, Chef Fati wrote, "I am desperate to overload my senses in the coming months, making reservations at the world’s best restaurants... I used to dream of owning my own restaurant. Now I have an ever growing list of the ones I need to visit. From decadent uni and truffle toast at Chef’s Table at Brooklyn Fare to spice-laden Szechuan hot pot in Flushing, I’m sketching a plan to eat my way through New York and the boroughs while I can."
Indeed, she set right out to explore restaurants of her dreams, along with dear friends from her Top Chef family.
In October, she had a girls' night at New York's Sushi Noz with pals including fellow Season 15 competitor Adrienne Cheatham.
And just days later, she teamed up with fellow Bravo's Top Chef alum Joe Flamm and Stephanie Izard for another memorable New York City meal at Masa. She captioned an Instagram post "Bucket List." Chef Masayoshi Takayama, who helms the restaurant, posted a photo of himself with Chef Fatima and her crew after the meal. He wrote, "Was an honor and a privilege to meet and cook for @cheffati last night. Inspired by you."
Chef Fati also continued to inspire her fans throughout her battle by experiencing, and demonstrating joy, in trying new things for the first time. On Halloween, she carved her first-ever pumpkins — creating two perfect jack-o-lanterns, traditional and toothy. "So much fun!" she wrote on Instagram. "Now I know why people enjoy doing this."
Chef Fati continued to work her way through her self-described "bucket list;" by appearing as a guest on The Ellen DeGeneres Show; she counted herself a devoted superfan of the host. On the show, which aired November 2, Ellen presented her with a check for $50,000 courtesy of sponsor Shutterfly meant to help her travel and dine as much as possible.
In her last Instagram post dated January 10, she thanked friends and followers "a million times for when you have given me joy."
If you would like to donate to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, visit curesarcoma.org.
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