The Top Chef host took to Instagram on Friday to pay tribute to Ali, who lost her battle with cancer just hours earlier. Ali was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma in 2017. In early 2018, the Top Chef fan favorite was declared cancer-free, only to find out in September that the rare form of cancer had returned. She was given one year to live and died at age 29.
"Goodbye lil’ sis. One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky.... 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,'" Lakshmi captioned her touching post, which featured photos of herself with Ali.
Lakshmi announced earlier on Friday that she would be canceling a Facebook Live for "personal reasons." She and Ali grew close after the chef appeared on Top Chef: Colorado in 2017; Ali opened up to ET about her friendship with Lakshmi last October.
"She is always sending me food, whether I can eat it or not," Ali said of Lakshmi. "She came to the hospital a few weeks ago when I relapsed. I think our relationship was judge and contestant and very formal and now it’s evolved into a genuine friendship. It’s really humbling to know that I’ve inspired Padma in a small way."
Lakshmi gushed to ET about her friendship with Ali last year, raving that the chef is "an extraordinary young woman, she's very brave, she's very funny. My job is just to be there for her."