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Irma Dütsch

Irma Dütsch, the renowned chef and restaurateur from La Gruyère, was the first Swiss woman to be awarded a Michelin star.

It was on the family farm in La Gruyère that Irma Dütsch learnt the importance of tradition and fine produce. It was also here that the seeds of her future career were sown.

Irma Grandjean, or Nano as her father called her, was born in the Gruyère village of Estavannens. The youngest of six children, she had always been fascinated by the mysterious world of cookery. From a very early age, Irma knew she wanted to be a chef and run her own restaurant. For over 30 years she would live out this dream with her husband, Hans-Jörg Dütsch, in the "Waldhotel Fletschhorn" in Saas-Fee.

In those days it was hard for a young woman to train as a professional chef. To achieve her goal, Irma headed to Rheinfelden on the banks of the Rhine, where she would be the first Swiss woman to qualify as a professional chef. She would later go on to work in myriad kitchens both at home and abroad. Irma was also the first female chef to be awarded a Michelin star. In 1994, the Gault&Millau guide awarded her 18 out of a maximum 20 points.

Although now officially retired, this self-effacing lady is busier than ever, working as a consultant and writer. Her latest book, "Amitié gourmande", was written together with 23 friends, some of whom are also renowned chefs in their own right.

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