After battling cancer, 'Top Chef' star Fatima Ali returns to the kitchen

The Pakistan-born chef known for her bold flavors returned to the culinary spotlight to cook for hundreds of guests at Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival.
by Erica Chayes Wida / / Source: TODAY

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Guests and chefs at the Pebble Beach Food and Wine Festival had more than just great meals to toast to over the weekend.

The event, which started April 5, marked "Top Chef" star Fatima Ali's return to the culinary spotlight after being diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma, a type of bone and soft tissue cancer, last fall.

"Goldilocks and the Three Top Chef Bears" was Ali's first public cooking event since she announced doctors had declared her "cancer-free" in February. According to Bravo, the event sold out in advance at $225 a plate. The 28-year-old chef (deemed "baby bear" as a contestant on Bravo's 15th season of "Top Chef") cooked up a feast Friday afternoon, alongside "Top Chef" contestants Bruce Kalman and Tyler Anderson (the "papa bears"), and chef Elizabeth Falkner (Goldilocks).

The three bears showed off their kitchen innovations again on Saturday with a demonstration of "wild and wonderful porridges." And Ali capped off her weekend at the Lexus Grand Tasting on Sunday, which featured more than 30 celebrity chefs preparing small plates, paired with complementary wines.

Ali announced she'd be re-debuting her kitchen skills at the Monterey, California, festival on Instagram earlier this year.

"I’m excited and nervous to get back into the kitchen after so long. My treatment is ongoing, still but I just can’t stay away any longer," she wrote. After doctors found a tumor in her shoulder last fall, the New York-based chef received treatment at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where she kept an upbeat attitude, while sharing the experience with fans through social media.

And she even received visits from some familiar famous foodies, including "Top Chef" host and judge Padma Lakshmi, and several of her season 15 competitors.

After Ali's Instagram announcement, fans not only flocked to the festival's website for a chance to savor Ali's return, but showed the Pakistani-American chef an outpouring of supportive cheers, such as "Go Baby Bear," "You got this!!!" and "Congrats on your comeback!"

Some instagrammers had longer sentiments to share: "This is so great to hear! Wish I could go to this event. Lots of love and positive thoughts being sent your way."

Another posted, "You're the best chef, your strength as a person is beyond amazing, you're an inspiration to young Chef's every where stay blessed, I wish you well chef?"

Fans also showed the love on Twitter.

One praised Ali as a survivor.

Another wrote, "Get in there, girl! Cook your flavors, do what makes you happy. Enjoy!"

So what's next for Ali? In February, the chef told amNY that she plans to move to California and open a Pakistani-influenced Thai restaurant once her next round of treatments is over.

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