Fan-favorite chef Fatima Ali continues to inspire and unite her "Top Chef" family — as well as her actual family — four months after her passing.
Contestants from Season 15 of Bravo's hit show "Top Chef," host Padma Lakshmi and many of Ali's loved ones joined each other for dinner in Brooklyn, New York, on Sunday to honor their late friend. In 2017, Ali was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a rare type of bone and soft tissue cancer. She was 29 when she died in January.
Season 15 chefs Joe Flamm, Brother Luck, Adrienne Cheatham, Carrie Baird, Joe Sasto, Chris Scott, Melissa Perfit, Tyler Anderson, Tanya Holland, Bruce Kalman and Claudette Zepeda-Wilkins, as well as many of Ali's relatives, off-camera friends, nurses and doctors that cared for her, celebrated her legacy and shared stories about the late chef.
Lakshmi, who attended the family-style dinner at Hometown Bar-B-Que with her daughter, Krishna, took to Instagram to document the special gathering:
“While it was so comforting to be with her family, it brought back all of the raw feelings that I had just very recently managed to somewhat put away,” the Emmy-winning host said of the day. “As a brown woman in professional life, but especially in the male-dominated field of food, we both connected over feeling like outsiders at times.
“After last week’s ceremony there is no doubt that there was a place for Fatima at the table. I couldn’t be more proud of you, grasshopper.”
Lakshmi, who has hosted "Top Chef" for 17 years, noted how chef Fati’s writing won her a posthumous James Beard Foundation award last week. The foundation recognized Ali for her poignant, self-reflective essay, “I’m a Chef with Terminal Cancer. This Is What I’m Doing with the Time I Have Left.”
"I am desperate to overload my senses in the coming months, making reservations at the world’s best restaurants, reaching out to past lovers and friends, and smothering my family, giving them the time that I so selfishly guarded before," Ali wrote in the touching piece for Bon Appétit, which was published in October 2018.
Ali’s brother, Mohammad, accepted the honor on his sister’s behalf.
Food Network star Bruce Kalman also shared a sentimental snapshot from the memorial meal.
"It was a really beautiful way for us honor the life of @cheffati surrounded by our @bravotopchef family, Fati’s family, friends, nurses and [doctors] that cared for her," he wrote.
Chef Adrienne Cheatham called the event a “Sunday Celebration” in her own Instagram post.
“Spending time with these guys is always good for the spirit, sharing laughs, love, and great food!” the "Top Chef" alum added.
Since the news of Ali's passing broke this past winter, hundreds of fans have shared their condolences with the chef's family and friends on social media.