Ritz Pastry Chef Jérôme Girardot Found Dead in Cameron Station Park
There's no good or delicate way to pass along such awful news, so forgive my straight-forward reportage on this: Jérôme Girardot, a respected pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton hotel in the West End, was found dead on Monday in Ben Brenman Park in Cameron Station, just weeks after an earlier tragedy in the same neighborhood.
The state medical examiner in Fairfax has ruled the 32-year-old Girardot's death a suicide.
"He was a master of his trade, creative, quiet, refined and poised—all qualities that made him unique," wrote Elizabeth Mullins, Ritz general manager and area vice president, in an internal memo forwarded to Young & Hungry. "His dedication, patience and work ethic set him apart. Jerome built strong relationships with his teammates and encouraged everyone to achieve their highest potential. He will be sadly missed."
According to an old Ritz-Carlton bio, Girardot "was born in northeastern France and began his culinary career there at an early age." It continues:
He honed his pastry skills and began to specialize in chocolate while working and training in Aix-en-Provence in southern France. His artistry took him to St. Thomas where he spent two years as first cook and assistant pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton, St. Thomas. Promoted to pastry chef, he relocated to The Ritz-Carlton, Pentagon City. In 2003, Chef Jérôme Girardot became pastry chef at The Ritz-Carlton, Washington, D.C.
In addition to desserts after a meal, guests and local residents may enjoy chef Girardot's chocolate confections during the annual Chocolate Decadence Buffet held in the Lobby Lounge throughout February and March. The popular event features more than forty different types of chocolate creations in dark, milk and white flavors, plus tempting chocolate beverages both hot and cold.
Former Ritz-Carlton publicist Dusty M. Lockhart remembers how Girardot used to say that, "Anything you can see or imagine I can create in chocolate." And he could, she says. He created D.C. monuments, Christmas trees, and even 50-inch-tall Easter eggs out of chocolate.
Girardot's talent caught the attention of the Post's Tom Sietsema during a recent re-review of the Westend Bistro by Eric Ripert, which is located inside the Ritz.
"As with the savories at Westend Bistro, desserts seduce the eyes," Sietsema wrote. "Created by Michael Laiskonis of Le Bernardin and executed by Jerome Girardot of the Ritz, the gems include carrot cake, treated to a fondant of goat cheese, and sweet potato tart, garnished with meringue buttons, in elegant pieces: jigsaw puzzles for the discerning sweet tooth. Frozen passion fruit mousse is gently sweet, lightly tart and wholly refreshing, thanks to the inclusion of a grapefruit sorbet laced with fresh rosemary."
Girardot "was very quiet, so he didn't go into the spotlight much," says Lockhart. "He was not about the spotlight. He was about the food."