Chef Fatima Ali Left The World A Final Message And It's Heartbreakingly Beautiful

By Haddiqua Siddiqui | 26 Jan, 2019

Chef Fatima Ali lost her battle against cancer at the age of 29 yesterday. 

Fatima was an inspiration for many due to her resilience and courage.

Now, a piece she wrote for ‘Bon Appetit Magazine’ that was published online after the news of her demise serves to be an everlasting symbol of the very same.

Fatima penned down how in Pakistan, food is an integral part of the culture. As a young girl she started making bread bears with peppercorn eyes and used cloves for the buttons with her grandmother, only to me mesmerized by the thought of actually being able to make something with her own hands.

Fatima graduated from the Culinary Institute of America in 2011 after which there was no looking back. She landed in an Indian-Latin restaurant in New York as a floor manager and the sous chef at the same time.

“Later, at another job, my executive chef quit suddenly, as they often do. I was just a 21-year-old junior sous chef, but suddenly in charge of the whole place,” she shared in the piece.

Things were not easy at work many a times for Fatima, but managing to get through a tough day and doing the same again the next day made her understand what a human is capable of.

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#popuppakistan complete!

A post shared by Fatima Ali (@cheffati) on

Fatima even said, “If I had to do it all again, I would not change anything.”

In 2017, after finishing filming Top Chef in Colarado, she got diagnosed with a rare form of cancer called Ewings Sarcoma. One day, in the middle of lunch, she had to be rushed to the emergency room which was the beginning of it all.

“Until your first chemo cycle, I do not think it really hits you. Then your hair starts falling out, and finally you are like, this is actually happening. This is the rest of my life,” Fatima wrote in the piece.

After eight rounds of chemo, when she thought she had beaten it, it came back and this, time even worse.

“It had spread to my lungs. The doctors told me I had a year to live,” Ali shared in the piece.

The first thing she did was dye her hair Platinum blonde after she found out. When she was moving between hospitals in New York and Los Angeles, she stopped feeling sorry for herself.

Because it could be so much worse than it is right now, she thought.


Fatima started making the most of whatever time she had left and used cancer to get her to go out and actually get things done.

“What is my intention? To live my life. To fulfill all those genuine dreams I have,” Fatima wrote in her last piece.

She continued, “I am doing things. I am going out to eat. I am making plans for vacations. I am finding experimental treatments. I am cooking. I am writing.”

Fatima and her brother challenged themselves to write a recipe a day. Things she liked to eat, or things people will make. Her brother wants to compile them all. He will turn them into something one day.

Her brother told her that as chefs, they deal with death every day. “When you are a chef, you understand the circle of life,” Ali said, agreeing with him.

On her Instagram, a post was shared by her family that reminded us of all the lessons Fatima learnt from this life before bidding it farewell.

To live life to the fullest, to pursue your passion; spread love and joy; be kind and forgiving; be generous. Moreover, to enjoy every morsel. To cook for the people you love and to travel the world and seek out adventure. Lastly, to help others and not to be afraid to take the road less taken.

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Fatima was at home with us, surrounded by her loved ones and beloved cat Mr. Meow, when she left us in the early hours of the morning. 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. For all the comfort and beauty they offer us, stars, too, are impermanent. This morning a great one was snuffed out. Though she’s no longer here with us, her spirit will continue to steer us. We hope that you, too, will listen to her lessons: Live your life as she did—to the fullest. Pursue your passion; spread love and joy; be kind and forgiving; be generous; enjoy every morsel—from humble street food to decadent fine dining; cook for the people you love. Travel the world and seek out adventure. Help others and don’t be afraid to take the road less taken. Fatima will always be a part of us, and in fact if you look deep enough, you may find your own inner Fati. If you’re lucky enough to find her there, trust her, listen to her, because she will change your life for the better. We’ve learned a great deal over the course of her illness, not only pragmatic lessons we wish we hadn’t needed to learn about her disease and our health system, but about the immense love of which people are capable; about the power of being true to yourself; about how we can be better if we model ourselves after someone like her. We want to thank everyone from the bottom of our now broken hearts. We’re eternally grateful for the unending support, love, and generosity shown by people along the way—from random strangers we passed on the street who would tell her how much they admire and respect her; to all her doctors and nurses who did their best; the chefs and hospitality friends who are now part of our extended family; and the big wigs that reached out to see how they can make her dreams a reality. This has been a truly humbling experience for us all and even in her last chapter as she began to leave us, Fatima showed us how we should live.

A post shared by Fatima Ali (@cheffati) on

May she rest in eternal peace. You can find her full piece here.



Pakistani Chef, Fatima Ali, Has Reportedly Passed Away After Her Battle With Cancer


Cover image via Instagram

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