A beloved chef’s mother “followed the breadcrumbs” and traveled to Italy to honor her daughter’s memory — less than a year after her death.
Fatima Ali, who won the “fan favorite” title on season 15 of Bravo’s Top Chef , passed away on January 25 after a nearly yearlong battle with cancer. In an Instagram post shared yesterday from Fatima’s account (which is now maintained by family) a loved one described how her mother fulfilled her wish of getting a seat at Chef Massimo Bottura’s table, and spending time with him and his wife Lara Gilmore.
Bottura is the chef patron of Osteria Francescana, which is a three-Michelin star restaurant located in Modena, Italy.
Fatima’s mother used the trip as a chance to “represent and share” a part of her daughter with the chef.
“The evening will never be forgotten by any who were there, Lara and Chef Massimo both paid special tribute to our Chef Fati, who was no doubt gleefully watching over her mom as she tried to decipher all five of the ages of parmigiano reggiano,” the post reads. “It was a precious opportunity, to go on a journey Fatima was looking forward to against the intensely challenging odds she was facing, and in some way represent and share a part of her with Chef Massimo.”
According to the post, Bottura was “deeply moved” by Ali’s story, her writing and the gesture her mother was making.
Prior to her death, Fatima penned an essay for Bon Appetit magazine, which she ended with: “We’re planning a trip to Europe: Austria, Italy. I want to eat really phenomenal Parmesan and balsamic and fresh buffalo mozzarella and real Italian tomatoes and basil and fresh pasta with good olive oil and great cheese. That’s all I f****** want.”
The new Instagram post describes how proud family is of both Fatima, for being an inspiration even today, and her mother.
“We can be very proud today, of Fatima, and how she continues to inspire people, and of her heartbroken mother who is honouring her daughter’s memory the best way she can - by making an effort to ‘indulge in the experiences of living,” the post reads. “The entire experience was truly food for the soul, connecting two beautiful memories in a place which was made to honour and pay tribute to the love for a mother, and a journey taken there for the love of a daughter.”
Other chefs took to the comments section to share their thoughts. Ming Tsai, a chef and owner of Blue Dragon wrote how about how he and Fatima discussed this particular meal. “So happy to hear this meal happened,” he wrote. “We chatted about this......my turn now, I’ll be going soon......”
Tanya Holland, who is the owner and executive chef of Brown Sugar Kitchen added: “Her spirit is there.”
Others also commented on the post, some sharing how they hope to see more of her journey, and would like to know about other restaurants she wanted to visit.
“Would love to know some of the restaurants she was excited about going to, it would be cool to go in her honor to support the food she cared so much about,” one person wrote.
Another said “Just wonderful. I hope to see so much more of the journey she wished to have. I know she is everywhere with you.”
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