The chef took to Instagram to express her excitement about returning to cooking at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival.  
fatima ali
Credit: Courtesy of NBCUniversal

Here’s some happy news for your Friday morning: Former Top Chef star Fatima Ali posted a heartwarming message to her Instagram account, expressing gratitude that she has been able to return to cooking after recovering from surgery to remove cancer from her shoulder.

The chef made her triumphant return to the kitchen at the Pebble Beach Food & Wine Festival last week, where she starred in a cooking demo with her fellow Top Chef alums Elizabeth Falkner, Tyler Anderson, and Bruce Kalman. Following the success of the event, Ali wrote that she “had the most incredible time,” at the festival.

Although she’s still recovering—she writes that her left arm is handicapped following the surgery—Ali is “overwhelmed with joy at being able to cook again.” The 29-year-old chef, who describes herself as “goofy” seems to be returning to her old, animated self that fans will be familiar with from her time on Top Chef.

This is certainly a moment of well-deserved celebration for the chef, but she also admits that she was hesitant to return to cooking, given her fragile condition.

“I was so scared I wouldn’t be able to keep up,” she writes. However, with the help of a friend, she “kicked ass.”

Clearly, Ali is a woman who can’t be easily discouraged, and never lost her passion for cooking, even in the direst circumstances. It’s inspiring to watch her triumphantly step back into the kitchen. Ali herself “couldn’t be more grateful,” that, despite her illness, she’s able to pursue her dream of cooking professionally.

Unfortunately, her cancer treatment isn’t over yet, but when it is, Ali promises that she will be opening her own restaurant in California, where she will “show the world all the beautiful food of Pakistan.”

Ali has been open about celebrating her heritage in the past: “It is such an undertaking to try to represent a culture that is often misconstrued by mass media,” she told Food & Wine in an interview after her departure from Top Chef. I’m very proud of where I come from and am glad that people get to see a more relatable Pakistani on television.”