'Top Chef' Host Padma Lakshmi Bids Farewell to Little 'Sis' Fatima Ali With Heartfelt Tribute

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi, who was close friends with Fatima Ali, paid tribute to her "lil' sis" on social media with an emotional video set to Carole King's "So Far Away."

"Goodbye lil' sis. One of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky," Lakshmi wrote. She also added a quote from Ali, noting that she has "no words" herself.

"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," the quote reads. "I know I'll be different, and, despite the worry that settles into me every time I wake up, I look forward to meeting that woman one day."

The quote comes from an essay Ali wrote in May 2018, before her cancer returned. In the essay, Ali wrote about how her cancer treatments changed her relationship with food.

Ali, 29, died on Friday after a battle with Ewing's sarcoma, a rare form of bone cancer. She was diagnosed in 2017, as her season of Top Chef was airing. By early 2018, she was told she was cancer-free. However, Ali revealed in a Healthyish essay that her cancer returned in September 2018 and outlined how she planned to spend her final days.

After Ali's essay was published, Lakshmi took to Twitter to share how proud she is of her friend.

"I have gotten to know most of her family and in them I see my own. I was in the hospital with her the morning she had surgery months ago and witnessed her courage," Lakshmi wrote on Oct. 10. "The day after my [New York Times] piece came out, I went to see her, and she cheered me on by holding my hand from the hospital bed, assuring me I had not flayed myself in vain. I was with her last night as she went in for radiation and she still turned back to smile at her mother and me when the nurse with the wheelchair came. I hope that this year brings her as much as she can hope for."

In one of her last interviews, Ali told Us Weekly that Lakshmi was by her side through everything.

"Padma has taken out much time for me and my family. Coming to sit with me during chemo, popping in with homemade khichdi or sending over delicious chicken and homemade samosas," Ali said in October. "While battling cancer, I have had energy for little else sometimes, and knowing that I have such a strong support system around me brings me great peace."

Ali appeared on Top Chef Season 15 and was voted the fan favorite chef. Just days before her death, her co-stars visited her to spend her final moments together.


"On behalf of the entire [Bravo Top Chef] family, we are deeply saddened to share the news that Fatima Ali has lost her courageous battle with cancer," Bravo, which airs Top Chef, said in a statement Friday afternoon. "Our thoughts are with her family and friends at this time. People not only fell in love with her cooking, but fell in love with her personality and heart. We hope that the beautiful memories shared with her will provide comfort to everyone who knew and loved her."

Photo credit: Instagram/Padma Lakshmi