Fatima Ali, a Pakistani-American chef made famous for her appearance on season 15 of Top Chef, has died amidst her struggle with the rare form of bone cancer called Ewing’s Sarcoma. She was 29.
“We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer,” a representative for Bravo confirmed to EW in a statement. “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.”
According to a family statement posted to Ali’s Instagram page, she passed away at home “surrounded by her loved ones and beloved cat Mr. Meow.”
“When someone as bright and young and vivacious as our Fati passes, the only metaphor that seems to fit is that of a star—a beacon in the darkness, a light that guides us, on which to make wishes, from which to weave dreams,” the statement reads, in part. “For all the comfort and beauty they offer us, stars, too, are impermanent. This morning a great one was snuffed out.”
Ali was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma in 2017, but she told PEOPLE she was “technically cancer-free” at Aspen’s Food & Wine Classic in July. Through an intimate essay published in Bon Appetite in October, she divulged “the cancer cells my doctors believed had vanished are back with a vengeance in my left hip and femur bone.”
In mid-January, she underwent surgery to remove a tumor, with Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi by her side for support.
“I know it’s been ages since I posted and most may have figured out why. I’m sick and unfortunately I’m getting sicker,” Ali wrote in a post on Instagram earlier in the month. “Right now all I need are prayers; prayers that are simple. I hope, because a wish is putting on too much responsibility on the other, that you will somehow find forgiveness in your big heart for whenever I must have hurt you. I thank you a million times over for when you have given me joy. I’ll try to keep everyone updated the best that I possibly can.”
Members of Ali’s Top Chef family came to Los Angeles this month to offer support during her hospital stay, including fellow contestants Joe Flamm, Adrienne Cheatham, Tyler Anderson, Bruce Kalman, Tanya Holland, Claudette Wilkins, Carrie Baird, Rogelio Garcia, Chris Scott, Tu David Phu, Joe Sasto, Melissa Perfit, and Laura Cole.
“I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever,” Kalman now writes in a tribute to his friend. “I’ll always remember the great times we had, especially our interview during the tailgating episode discussing football, stadiums, and Taylor Swift.”
Scott subsequently wrote, “Thank you for all the laughter, showing me some delicious food, but most of all your friendship. I know you’re somewhere singing with the angels.”
Another commemoration came in from Wilkins, recalling “the hours on end we spent in the kid pool (the damn scratches) or the hot tub playing Never Have I Ever.”
“Hearing you talk about your mom with so much love and wishing my kids would speak the same of me one day,” she continued. “Falling asleep talking about life/boys/ dreams. Sweet dreams our Pakistaní princess, the pain is over.”
This article has been updated with a statement from Ali’s family.
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