Late ‘Top Chef’ Viewer Favorite Fatima Ali Is Among Female Culinary Stars Captured By Documentary ‘Her Name Is Chef’

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EXCLUSIVE: Fatima Ali, a viewer favorite on Top Chef who died of bone cancer in 2019, is among a handful of subjects of documentary Her Name Is Chef.

Virgil Films & Entertainment will premiere the film in virtual cinemas March 26 before a digital HD release on April 27 and a DVD rollout on May 11.

The film examines gender equality in the restaurant business through interviews conducted by Leia Gaccione, herself a chef. Along with Ali, the film features Elizabeth Falkner, Hillary Sterling, Esther Choi, Juliet Masters and Caroline Schiff. Instead of the more straightforward look at female chefs initially planned, Her Name Is Chef took on a different shape in light of Ali’s illness and death. While it is not a solo portrait of Ali, her legacy is woven through much of the film.

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In an essay for Bon Appétit magazine written before her death, Ali recalled her origins. After growing up in Pakistan, she worked her way up as a cook and manager in New York restaurants after graduating from the Culinary Institute of America. Even though she didn’t win Top Chef when she appeared on the Bravo competition series in 2017, her Pakistani-influenced cooking made her a viewer favorite.

Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi posted a video tribute to her friend upon her passing, saying, “one of our brightest stars has fallen from the sky.”

Director Peter Ferriero’s previous films include The Price of Fame, a dual portrait of pro wrestler Ted DiBiase (aka The Million Dollar Man) and his son.

Virgil has released films such as the Oscar-nominated documentary Glen Campbell: I’ll Be Me, Miss Representation, Forks Over Knives, Restrepo and I Am Chris Farley.

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