Former 'Top Chef' contestant Fatima Ali, 29, dies from cancer

"One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky," show host Padma Lakshmi wrote in tribute to Ali.
Image: Top Chef - Season 15
Top Chef, Fatima Ali.Tommy Garcia / Bravo

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By Doha Madani and David K. Li

Fatima Ali, a popular contestant from Season 15 of Bravo's "Top Chef," died after a long bout with a rare bone cancer, the network said Friday.

“We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer," according to a statement by Bravo, which is owned by NBC Universal.

"Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart. We hope that the beautiful memories shared with her will provide comfort to everyone who knew and loved her."

Season 15 of "Top Chef" aired in 2018 and was shot in Colorado. She finished seventh out of 15 contestants and was won the "Fan Favorite" title.

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She also appeared in an episode of the Food Network's "Chopped" and won her episode in Season 12 in 2012.

"Top Chef" host Padma Lakshmi posted a video tribute on Twitter for Ali set to Carole King's "So Far Away." The video included photos of Lakshmi at the hospital with Ali as she sought treatment.

"Goodbye lil’ sis. One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky," Lakshmi wrote. "I have no words, but here are some of hers: 'I dream of being better. I dream of being myself again, but I know I’ll never quite be the same, and that’s okay. I look forward to meeting that woman one day.'"

Contestants from Ali's season of "Top Chef" recently visited her in the hospital, knowing she was terminally ill.

Season 15 chef Bruce Kalman posted a picture of himself with Ali and fellow contestant Tyler Anderson at her hospital bed. She was smiling, flashing a victory sign and playfully sticking her tongue out.

"It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer," Kalman wrote. "I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever. I’ll always remember the great times we had."

Ali was first diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer, back in late 2017, as that season of "Top Chef" was just starting to air. The chef had declared herself cancer-free this past summer but revealed that it was back in the fall.

The Pakistan-born Fatima left her hometown at age of 18 for New York to chase her dream of cooking.

She enrolled in the Culinary Institute of America and scored her first job as a junior sous chef at Café Centro in New York. She eventually became the youngest executive sous chef at Macy's Stella 34, and later became executive sous chef at La Fonda Del Sol.