Fatima Ali lost her battle with cancer on January 25 at age 29. Before her death, she wrote a moving essay for Bon Appétit, published on the website on the day she passed away to honor her memory. In it, the Bravo's Top Chef Season 15's Fan Favorite winner shared her signature optimism, curiosity, and humor, even in the face of a grave diagnosis.
She also shared more about the "bucket list" of restaurants and food experiences she had been creating, and moving through, some of which she was able to document on her Instagram before she passed away.
"I'm cooking. I'm writing," she wrote. "I’ve also been eating at a lot of restaurants. Vespertine, Sushi Masa, Broken Spanish, Kismet."
She shared one incredible experience that brought her family to tears. "I went to Eleven Madison Park with my family and the manager, a friend of mine, made a replica of my food stall, VanPakistan, in the kitchen. Down to the tablecloth. Down to the kind of napkin dispenser I had," she wrote. "The chef made the most delicious, melt-in-your-mouth Seekh kebabs I’ve ever had, with flatbread and pickled onions and green chutney they had made just for me. My mom was in tears, bawling. My older brother was crying. Everyone was hugging each other. We were blown away."
She'd also been planning more dining experiences around the world, and as a guest on Ellen DeGeneres' show, she'd received a $50,000 check to help cover the expenses. "We’re planning a trip to Europe: Austria, Italy. I want to eat really phenomenal Parmesan and balsamic and fresh buffalo mozzarella and real Italian tomatoes and basil and fresh pasta with good olive oil and great cheese. That’s all I f--king want," she wrote. "Oh, and I DM’d Noma. I was like, 'I’m coming to town. I hope even if there aren’t spots, you could make a spot for me.' I received a reply from chef Rene Redzepi himself. Turns out people respond when you tell them you’re dying of cancer."
If you would like to donate to the Sarcoma Foundation of America, visit curesarcoma.org.
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