In a society obsessed with producing doctors, engineers and lawyers as a sign of success satisfying societal labels, choosing something as unconventional as a career in culinary is particularly full of challenges.
But nothing held Chef Fatima Ali back! As a teenager, she convinced her parents to pursue her dream to be a chef (which of course wasn’t easy) but she was successful and jetted off!
Fatima learned at the Culinary Institute of America, worked with some big names in the restaurant market and finally, her talent & passion landed her on TV at the Food Network’s show ‘Chopped’.
She became the first Pakistani women to win the competition with her unique take at Pakistani cuisine. But that wasn’t all! Fatima was also Pakistan’s representation on Bravo’s TV Show, Top Chef. With her talent and extremely attractive personality, Fatima was one of the most popular participants – loved equally by her contestants and the audience.
During an interview with Medium, Fatima says it is unusual to have a woman in male-dominated kitchens.
“Historically the professional kitchen has always been a male-dominated one. A girl from Pakistan in one of those male-dominated kitchens in usually rare.” – she said.
But these victories are not all that life had planned for her. Soon after her appearance in Top Chef in 2017, Fatima was diagnosed with
Ewing Sarcoma – a rare form of cancer occurring in bones that affects the tissues around them.
But Fatima is a born champion and cancer can’t take that away from her. Writing for a food magazine Bon Appetit, Fatima said that even cancer can’t affect the love for food she has.
“The edges of my thoughts are tinged with worry, but I know that my love for food and cooking is so strong inside me that even cancer can’t cut it down.” – she wrote.
After going through rounds of chemotherapy, Fatima was declared cancer-free, but last month her doctor told that the cancer is back. This time, it is terminal and only has one year to live.
But she is still facing it strong. Writing for the magazine Bon Appetit, she says she has found an odd sense of relief.
“An odd sense of relief has settled inside me, knowing that I can finally live for myself, even if it’s just for a few more precious months.”
Fatima is making the most out of every day and is living it to the fullest. She is reaching out to people, asking them for forgiveness and making things right for herself before she departs this world.
Her spirit inspired many and she was invited at the infamous Ellen Show, where the host Ellen DeGeneres also gave her $50,000 as a gift so she can fulfil her wish of travelling around the world and dining in the best restaurants across the globe!
Fatima’s life is the definition of success, inner satisfaction, passion and determination. And she hasn’t chosen any lesser inspirational way to leave this world as well.
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