Fatima Ali, the New York City-based chef who was a breakout star on "Top Chef," has died after suffering from a rare bone cancer, according to a statement from Bravo. She was 29.
"We are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer," Bravo said Friday 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."
Ali wrote in Bon Appétit in September that she only had a year to live. She was diagnosed in 2017 with a rare form of bone cancer called Ewing's Sarcoma.
In an Instagram post on January 10, Ali wrote that she was "sick and unfortunately I'm getting sicker. Right now all I need are prayers; prayers that are simple."
In a letter to her 18-year-old self for," Ali advised herself to "enjoy the next 10 years that you have, because you will never get that valuable time back."
"In fact, you may not even get to see your 30th birthday," Ali wrote. "Life is unfair and something unfair does happen to you. You will get cancer. A rare form of it. And the toll it will take on you and your family is immeasurable. Forget about the physical side effects (though those are pretty bad). I'm talking about the uncertainty you will live with every day."
Originally from Pakistan, Ali moved to New York City at age 18 to pursue her dream of becoming a chef, according to an obituary published by Bravo. She attended the Culinary Institute of America and became a junior sous chef at Café Centro. She later became the youngest executive sous chef at Macy's Stella 34 and also worked as an executive sous chef at La Fonda Del Sol.
In 2012, Ali became the first Pakistani woman to win "Chopped." She then competed in Season 15 of "Top Chef." Although she finished in seventh place, she went on to win Fan Favorite.
As Season 15 of "Top Chef" was airing in 2017, Ali announced she had been diagnosed with Ewing's Sarcoma. She underwent several rounds of chemotherapy and then doctors declared her cancer-free in January 2018 after removing tumor and surrounding cells in her left shoulder, according to Bravo.
But in the Bon Appétit essay published only nine months later, Ali revealed her oncologist told her she had only a year to live. She wrote that she planned to eat at as many restaurants as possible.
In her "Note to Self" essay, Ali wrote to "wear your chains with grace."
"Almost too much for you at times, but I'm here to tell you that with the love and support of your family, friends and well-wishers, that chain becomes a meager string around your neck," Ali wrote. "You are no longer shackled against your will. You no longer wear your chains with grace. You are grace itself."