'Top Chef' Contestant Fatima Ali Dies After Battle with Cancer

Breaking News

"Top Chef" contestant Fatima Ali has died after a battle with bone cancer.

Ali -- who was very public with her diagnosis and fight -- sent a message out to fans a couple weeks ago saying, "I know it’s been ages since I posted and most may have figured out why. I’m sick and unfortunately I’m getting sicker. Right now all I need are prayers; prayers that are simple."

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Her friend and former contestant from "Top Chef" announced Friday that she had passed away.

It was back in October when Fatima announced her cancer had returned ... and doctors said she had a year left to live. Fatima appeared on "Ellen" a short time later where the talk show host gave her $50,000 to live out her dream of visiting the world's best restaurants.

Fatima appeared on season 15 of the "Top Chef" reality competition, and was voted a fan favorite.

Ali was 29 years old.

RIP

Emeril Lagasse, John Besh Celeb Chefs Have Recipe for Relief For N.O. Tornado Victims

EXCLUSIVE

Celebrity chefs Emeril Lagasse and John Besh are cooking for a cause ... helping tornado victims in New Orleans.

The chefs have opened their wallets and offered up food after 7 tornadoes ripped through the City's 9th Ward Tuesday, destroying dozens of homes and leaving dozens injured.

Emeril donated to the Second Harvest Food Bank. The org has already distributed more than 23,000 pounds of food.

Meanwhile, John -- a former regular on 'Iron Chef' shows -- and his partner, Alon Shaya, have used one of their restaurants to whip up 500 meals for locals.

Emeril has 4 restaurants in New Orleans, and John -- a Louisiana native -- has 15.

'Top Chef' Winner Paul Qui Arrested For Alleged Drug-Fueled Assault On GF

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"Top Chef" winner Paul Qui was arrested for allegedly assaulting his girlfriend, after she told cops he beat her up while high on a combination of coke, Xanax, weed and alcohol.

Stephanie Rodriguez claims the season 9 winner dragged her out of bed in the wee hours of Saturday morning so she could join a party with a bunch of his friends. Rodriguez says one of Qui's pals then propositioned her for group sex which sent Qui into a rage.

Rodriguez says Qui first kicked his friends out of the house, and then turned his rage on her, throwing her up against the walls and doors and preventing her from leaving.

According to the police report, when cops arrived they found blood on the walls and floor, and all over Qui himself. Cops also say Qui admitted he got physical with Rodriguez, but said all he did was restrain her until cops arrived.

Qui was booked for two misdemeanors -- assault causing bodily injury to a family member and unlawful restraint.

He was released on $20k bond.

'Top Chef' Lawsuit Racist Networks Stole Our Idea ... Claim Producers

EXCLUSIVE

NBC and Bravo got together with major cruise lines and ripped off the idea for a "Top Chef" special from 3 producers who are now suing the networks ... and crying racism -- this according to a new lawsuit.

According to the court docs ... the three accusers pitched a reality show called "Walk the Plank" to Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and Celebrity Cruise Lines. Thirteen chefs would compete against each other on a cruise ship with the winner becoming the ship's Executive Chef.

The cruise lines rejected the idea, but soon after that NBC announced the release of "Top Chef - Chefs At Sea" -- in conjunction with the cruise companies ... according to the docs.

The producers say they're especially galled by the alleged screw job because they say NBC's networks have an agreement with the National African American Leadership Organizations to increase diversity.

NBC hasn't responded to a call for comment.

The producers not only state in the docs that 2 of them are African-American -- they add that even though the third producer is not ... she is married to a Black man.

Close enough.

'Top Chef' Winner Cuts Deal In Matzoh Ball Lawsuit

EXCLUSIVE

Celebrity chef Ilan Hall -- the former "Top Chef" winner -- has just thrown in the dish towel in a lawsuit that accused him of fenneling money from investors.

Hall was sued for taking $37,500 from money men to help in the operation of his restaurant, The Gorbals in downtown L.A. And, fun fact ... it's known for bacon-wrapped matzoh balls.

But the investors claim Hall was as unkosher as his meals and pocketed the cash.

We just learned -- in a rosh to judgment -- the case settled for $25K.

'Top Chef' Alum Has a Khao You Sabotaged My Restaurant!

EXCLUSIVE

"Top Chef" alum Leah Cohen -- who placed 6th on Season 5 of the show -- is in dire straits with her NYC restaurant Pig & Khao ... and now she's suing the restaurant's management company, blaming it for all her financial woes.

Leah filed the lawsuit against New York Restaurant Services Group -- owned by famed restaurateur Rick Camac -- claiming she signed a 50/50 business deal with it last year, agreeing to split ownership of her restaurant in exchange for its management services.

Leah says NYRSG agreed to oversee Pig & Khao's operations, including finances, development, marketing, advertising, training of staff, and a bunch of other management-related tasks -- but ended up getting Pig & Khao into a heap of money troubles instead.

According to Leah, NYRSG failed to pay the restaurant's suppliers, its staff, its landlord, and even the Tax Man -- resulting in massive unpaid bills and frozen bank accounts -- but still insisted on paying itself a 3% management fee.

Leah -- who claims to have invested $400,000 in the business with her father -- says the restaurant owes the government $47,283, her landlord is threatening to throw her out, and she's on the brink of losing everything.

She says the restaurant is "clearly failing," and has been operating at a loss pretty much since it opened last fall. (For what it's worth, Pig & Khao has stellar Yelp and Zagat reviews. So check it out.)

She is suing NYRSG for unspecified damages, and wants to terminate their business relationship ASAP. A rep for NYRSG had no comment.