Late Pakistani American Chef Fatima Ali wins James Beard Award for Her Posthumous Memoir

Late Pakistani American Chef Fatima Ali wins James Beard Award for Her Posthumous Memoir

Fatima Ali, known for her successful appearances on “Top Chef” and “Chopped,” won a posthumous James Beard Foundation Book Award for Literary Writing for her memoir “Savor: A Chef’s Hunger for More.” Ali had previously won a James Beard Foundation award in 2019 for her personal essay published in Bon Appetit titled “I’m a Chef With Terminal Cancer. This Is What I’m Doing with the Time I Have Left.”

Ali rose to fame through her appearances on “Top Chef,” and was voted by fans of the show as their favorite contestant of Season 15. While her season of the show was still airing in 2017, she announced that she had been diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma, a cancer that affects bone and soft tissue. After chemotherapy and surgery, she was told she was cancer-free, but the cancer came back and doctors told Ali she had a year to live. She decided to make the most of that year and tour the world through food. However, her plans were abruptly interrupted by her deteriorating health. She passed at the age of 29 on January 25, 2019.

Ali’s essay for Bon Appetit about her last year on Earth, published the day of her death, won her her first James Beard award for a short form personal essay. Her memoir, also published posthumously in October 2022, won this year for literary writing. The memoir tells the story of her rise to fame and her desire to change the dominant narrative of Pakistan as a violent and backwards country through her cooking. Ali hired Tarajia Morrell to help her write the memoir in late November 2018, but their collaboration was cut short when Ali passed away in January 2019. The memoir includes writing from Ali, Morris and Ali’s mother Farezeh Durrani, who wrote the foreword.

The description of the book reads: “Including writing from Fatima during her last months and contributions by her mother, Farezeh, and her collaborator, Tarajia Morrell, Savor is a deftly woven account and an inspiring ode to the food, family, and countries Fatima loved so much. … Savor is a triumphant memoir, at once an exploration of the sense of wonder that made Fatima so special and a shining testament to the resilience of the human spirit. At its core, it is a story about what it means to truly live, a profound and exquisite portrait of savoring every moment.”

The James Beard Foundation, named for the late American chef, was created to “celebrate, support, and elevate the people behind America’s food culture and champion a standard of good food anchored in talent, equity, and sustainability.”

Great! You’ve successfully signed up.

Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.

You've successfully subscribed to Fann.

Success! Check your email for magic link to sign-in.

Success! Your billing info has been updated.

Your billing was not updated.