The 29-year-old Top Chef alum died on Friday after a battle with cancer. Ali was diagnosed with a form of bone cancer called Ewing's sarcoma in 2017. In early 2018, she 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.
Aliza Raza shared the devastating news on Instagram.
"Fatima Ali (Chef Fati!) and her brave battle with cancer ended today," Raza wrote. "Known for her win on Top Chef, but even more for her dynamic personality and hilarious wit, the young chef inspired thousands across borders. Please recite a special prayer for her and her loved ones. May she rest in power? #cheffati #f**kcancer"
Prior to her death, Ali had been keeping her fans posted on her health problems. Her last post came on Jan. 10, when she announced that she was "getting sicker."
"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," she wrote. "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."
"I did not expect my article to get that kind of attention at all. I wanted to write for myself," she said. "There’s so many emotions when you’re going through something like this. I was so consumed in working in restaurants and trying to be a chef and I decided I wanted to pick up writing again. Amanda from Bon Appetit reached out to me and it really snowballed and resonated with so many people. They could see themselves in that piece and relate to the struggles I was going through. Cancer is something that affects millions of people, I think it did so well because people found a way to relate to it in so many different ways."
"I was carrying so many anxieties," she added. "As a chef, I am so used to being in control of everything and I didn’t have any control at that moment in my life. Writing that piece was a way of me having control again and doing something for myself. It was having that strength back again. There were so many emotions behind it."
As for her legacy, Ali hoped to "make an impact and some difference and shining a spotlight on such a rare cancer."
"There’s not a lot of funding, so there isn’t much research," she said. "It’s not the case with pediatric cancers. No one is shining the spotlight so they are not getting what they need."
"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."
Last year, Lakshmi gushed to ET about her friendship with Ali, 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."
Though Lakshmi has yet to post explicitly about Ali's death, she announced that her scheduled Facebook Live was canceled "due to personal reasons."
I canceled the @BravoTopChef Facebook Live today due to personal reasons.
Just over a week after season 15, Top Chef contestants reunited in support of Ali and many of them took to social media to express their sadness about her death.
"It’s with a heavy heart we say goodbye to Fatima Ali today, as she has lost her battle with cancer," Bruce Kalman wrote. "I will miss you Fati, and you will be in my heart forever. I’ll always remember the great times we had, especially our interview during the tailgating episode discussing football, stadiums, and Taylor Swift. Much love, Bruce ? #f**kcancer #cheffati #topchef #friends #family #itsnotfair"
"I had so many laughs with this beautiful young brown woman! Despite her youth, there was an innate knowing, a maturity, worldliness and sophistication that I deeply appreciated," she wrote. "She was compassionate and empathetic. These qualities made her ambition and drive so authentic. We were soul sisters. I will miss you dearly @cheffati Do your work on the other side! Much love to your family! We will all carry on your legacy. #cancersucks #peace #love"
"My dearest Fatima, this is how I will remember you til my time on earth is done," Top Chef contestant Claudette Wilkins wrote alongside a smiling photo of the pair. "I will remember 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. Falling asleep talking about life/boys/ dreams. Sweet dreams our Pakistaní princess, the pain is over. #forfati #f**kcancer"