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Culinary Ladies of the Eighties

Trailblazers paved the way for current Austin food scene

By Virginia B. Wood, 11:00AM, Thu. Sep. 4

Culinary Ladies of the Eighties
Photo by John Anderson

The Eighties were a dynamic time in Austin - real estate boomed, busted, and boomed again; the seeds of the city's development as a high-tech hub were planted and began to flourish; and an embryonic restaurant scene and the Hill Country wine industry both began to blossom.

Over the next couple of months, we'll present regular profiles of some of the businesswomen who made significant contributions to establishing the foundation of Austin's emerging culinary culture. Up first is Patricia Bauer-Slate.

Patricia Bauer-Slate

Though Patricia and her business partner Tom Neuhaus founded Sweetish Hill Bakery in East Austin in 1975, Austin's first French bakery was successfully established in West Austin as the Eighties dawned, having been crowned the best bakery in the state by Texas Monthly. Patricia's European-inspired business model – all-from-scratch preparation, quality ingredients, and partnerships with local suppliers such as Anderson & Co. Coffee and Good Flow Juice – inspired some emulation by bakeries and restaurants that would follow, such as Chez Fred, Texas French Bread, Captain Quackenbush's, and Upper Crust.

To commemorate 20 years of success at the bakery, Patricia and her husband, Joe Slate self-published The Sweetish Hill Bakery Cookbook – A Baker's 20 Favorite Recipes for 20 Years that can still be purchased at the bakery today.

After more than 25 years at Sweetish Hill, Patricia sold the bakery to her business partner Jim Murphy in order to concentrate her energies on a new food venture. Patricia's Lunchbox contracts with area private schools to provide healthy, freshly-prepared meals to Austin school children. Her current challenge is to make those meals all organic as well, Patricia Bauer-Slate is convinced that providing healthy meals for kids is an essential component to a good education. Here's hoping Patricia's Lunchbox experiences the same success and emulation as Sweetish Hill.

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