Bravo’s ‘Top Chef Amateurs’ Producer Cat Sullivan’s Leap of Faith Scored Her a Dream Career (Exclusive)

Cat Sullivan, Magical Elves’ executive producer for Top Chef Amateurs shared how she ended up working on one of the most acclaimed series in reality television, crediting gumption, passion, and a little luck. “I got really lucky,” she told Showbiz Cheat Sheet about her journey to Top Chef. “I think everyone has a story like how they got their foot in the door.” Her story could be a blueprint for aspiring artists who hope to shoot for the stars.

‘Top Chef Amateurs’ executive producer Cat Sullivan applied for 50 jobs after graduation

With her newly minted degree from Florida State University, Sullivan did what most college grads do – apply, apply, apply for jobs.

Top Chef Amateurs Melissa King, Joe Flamm, Gail Simmons, Eric Adjepong present their dish to the judges
Top Chef Amateurs Melissa King, Joe Flamm, Gail Simmons, Eric Adjepong present their dish to the judges | David Moir/Bravo

“When I was in college, there were connections my brother had with one of his friends, I was able to get onto Top Chef,” she recalled. “And I mean, when I was graduating from Florida State, I was very lucky. I’d done a lot of amazing things like started a late-night variety show and that’s still, I think, running to this day. But I got to experience all this really great stuff through my education there.”

“But when I was graduating, I think I applied for like 50 jobs in L.A.,” she said. “I didn’t hear back from anyone. And then I got an email from a producer on Top Chef. But I didn’t know she was a producer on Top Chef, it was very all like veils of secrecy.”

Cat Sullivan didn’t know she was getting a job on ‘Top Chef’

She was told the job was hers if she could arrive in Seattle by a certain date. “It was basically like if you can make it to Seattle by this date, then you have a job,” she said. “And so I called my mom and we drove from Tallahassee to Seattle. I found an apartment and just kind of worked as a PA for like three or so months. Which was a huge risk because, you know, you don’t know what’s going to happen. I’m like, maybe I’m going to end up working at Starbucks up there.”

“It worked out for me because I went on I’ve worked with Magical Elves over the past, I guess like almost 10 years now,” she remarked. “I’m very thankful that I took that risk. Even though I had no idea what show I was going to or anything. And obviously, I went on to work on multiple seasons of Top Chef and I ended up producing on Top Chef. Then I was fortunate to get to work on Nailed It! and all these other great competition series. So it definitely was a risk. But it was good.”

‘Top Chef’ producer Cat Sullivan offers advice to aspiring producers

Sullivan said her career journey was definitely sprung from a leap of faith. “Yeah I mean, I think it’s all about kind of doing that leap of faith, to be completely honest. When I start driving from Tallahassee to Seattle, I didn’t even have a true job offer, didn’t even give me what we were doing at the start date or anything. It was all very vague.”


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Thankfully, her mother was supportive, even after she shared she didn’t exactly have a concrete job offer. “And so when I got Seattle I had to reveal to my mother that I didn’t have a job offer and she’s like, what do you mean?” she recalled. “Like, I’m sorry. I don’t know. I just knew it was going to work out. It’s kind of like, you know, you just have to approach stuff, approach this industry, I think, in particular with fearlessness. And just kind of knowing that if you work hard and you’re a good person to others and that that’s all going to pay off.”