Patricia Bauer was born in Philadelphia to a family of German bakers and educated at the University of Pennsylvania where she received a degree in English Literature. She moved to Texas in 1969, married Professor Joseph Slate and spent 1972/73 in Paris and Vienna. There they met Tom Neuhaus, a European trained chef and food chemist. Together they worked on perfecting the techniques that Tom was learning as a baker in a Viennese Konditorei (Café/Bakery).
In 1974, after returning from a year in Vienna, Patricia and Joseph settled in Old West Austin, near Mathew’s Elementary School. One day, while voting there Patricia decided to find out about cooking for the elementary school. She was told that most of the foods were delivered as finished products and there was very little scratch cooking. Although dismayed by the concept (after that discovery her own daughter packed a lunch almost every day of her K through 12,) she put the idea aside and went off to found Sweetish Hill Bakery.
In March of ‘75 they opened Austin’s first full service European bakery/café/catering business. Their first name for it was Neuhaus and Bauer. They later changed it to Sweetish Hill Bakery, a pun on Swede’s Hill where it was originally located at 1410 Waller St.
They received critical acclaim (Texas Monthly Best Bakery in the State, 1978) for these high quality baked goods. Within several months of opening the bakery, they added a catering service and a restaurant which served breakfast, lunch, dinner.
In 1988 she welcomed soon to become co owner Jim Murphy, one of her and Tom’s early cooking school students and employees who had his own career baking in famous New York City eateries before returning to Austin.
In 2002 she met now licensed nutritionist Kelly Barnhill who asked her if Sweetish Hill would offer lunch for her son’s preschool. In addition, Kelly wanted to see if Sweetish Hill would be able to prepare food for children with allergies. Patricia said yes, and the idea for what has become Patricia’s Lunchbox was born.
In February 2008, Patricia left Sweetish Hill Bakery (in the capable hands of Jim Murphy and other longtime employees) to devote all of her energy to Patricia’s Lunchbox. Currently feeding over 400 students in 4 schools daily, her goal is to offer great tasting, nutritious, affordable food to as many children as she can. She also hopes to be a continuing part of a local, national and international movement to improve the diet of our youngest and most vulnerable eaters. As Chef Ann Cooper, (who now serves lunches for the Berkeley Unified School District lunch program in Boulder, Colorado) a leading light in this movement has said: “ IT IS ONLY AS IMPORTANT AS SAVING THE PLANET!”