Chef Fatima Ali Posthumously Wins a James Beard Award: "She Belonged in That Room"

Chef Fatima Ali Posthumously Wins a James Beard Award: "She Belonged in That Room"

The Bravo's Top Chef Season 15 Fan Favorite Fatima Ali died earlier this year at age 29 after a battle with cancer.

By Alesandra Dubin

Bravo's Top Chef Season 15's Fan Favorite winner Fatima Ali lost her battle with cancer on January 25 at age 29. Before her death, she wrote a moving essay for Bon Appétitpublished on the website on the day she passed away to honor her memory. In it, the shared her signature optimism, curiosity, and humor, even in the face of a grave diagnosis. And now, Chef Fati has won a James Beard award for that work, receiving the James Beard Foundation Journalism Award posthumously in the category of short form personal essay.

Her Instagram account, still maintained by her loved ones to share information and plans to "keep her memory alive and strong," announced the news with gratitude to the magazine and to the foundation. 

It also bore a lengthier message detailing the significance of the honor:

"Some special news to share with everyone. Fati won a James Beard Award! She belonged in that room last night where she would have sat alongside chefs like Samin Nosrat, David Chang, Marcus Samuelsson & so many other passionate and talented people. Fatima was always meant to win a James Beard Award. She was always meant to positively influence and inspire so many people around the world. 

Fati was always meant to use food as a medium and bring joy to people, to provoke critical thought, and to share her message of love and compassion. She just did it all sooner than anyone thought possible. 

During the ceremony, people paid tribute to some of her food heroes — icons like Jonathan Gold and Anthony Bourdain, and I couldn't help thinking that they are probably all up there together. At the most delicious noodle soup spot, slurping away, watching over us as we remember them."

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