Proud of Them: Diego Smith and Julisa Dilbert

| 04/02/2019
CNS Local Life
Diego Smith

(CNS Local Life): To introduce the public to the latest crop of Proud of Them recipients, the Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands is releasing biographies of the 10 young people recognised. Diego Smith earned the distinction for career and Julisa Dilbert for business.

Smith (24) is an up-and-coming culinary artist. Hailing from West Bay, he is the youngest of two, and was raised by his single mother who worked tirelessly to put food on the table and keep a roof over her children’s heads, the ministry said in the press release.

Though an average student academically, he soon discovered that he excelled in the kitchen. After moving to California in 2014, his craving for home-cooked Caymanian food from home compelled him to recall the recipes that were given to him by his mother, which had been passed on from at least four previous generations.

With his realisation of his knack for cooking, he enrolled in a two-year programme at Middlesbrough College in the UK where he obtained a Diploma in Professional Cookery/Culinary Skills Levels 1 and 2. While there, Smith also worked at Michelin-star restaurant, the Hudson Brasserie Quay. He then took on a three-month internship at ALMA Scuola Di Cucina in Italy, studying Italian cuisine and fine dining while cooking for guests of luxury Italian villas.

After that came a move to Toronto where he completed a one-year postgraduate diploma course specialising in Italian cuisine.

While studying in Canada, Diego worked at The Chef’s House, a student-operated restaurant at George Brown College, where he had the opportunity to be featured as Chef of the Week, the release stated. His job was to create a menu from scratch that would be served to patrons of the establishment; his dishes were so well received that the restaurant added a few to its menu.

Four years after his decision to pursue a career in the culinary arts, he continues to learn more about himself and his abilities, and experiment with various types of foods and cooking styles. 

In Cayman, he has worked at Luca Restaurant during his summer breaks and is now the line cook at the Hurley’s Supermarket deli. He also works part time at the bar at Blue Iguana Grill.

Smith’s dream is to open his own restaurant, but for now, the release said, “he’s happy to gain more knowledge and experience both in Cayman and around the world”.

CNS Local Life
Julisa Dilbert

Young Caymanian businesswoman Dilbert “is the embodiment of determination, innovation and hard work”, the ministry said in the press release. When she was 19 in 2009, she started a dog-walking and pet-sitting company, Happy Paws Cayman; she came up with the idea while was working at a dog day care.

Now, 10 years later, the business employs nine staff with more than 100 clients across Grand Cayman, with employees also flying to the Sister Islands when needed. The success and good reputation of the business is due to Dilbert, “who goes above and beyond when it comes to quality customer service and caring for both her animal clients and their parents”, the press release said.

The company offers care for all kinds of animals – dogs, cats, birds, turtles, stingrays, rabbits, pigs, snakes and spiders. Services are also provided for animals that are not allowed at day care facilities or boarding kennels, and animals with special needs.

Dilbert’s “caring attitude and business aptitude extends to her employees and community” as well, the ministry said, with each staff member receiving a phone and gas allowance and a commission for bringing new clients to the company.

In addition, she offers any clients with pets adopted from the Humane Society a one-time free service and discounts on their future pet care packages.

Dilbert “is living proof that where you come from does not define who you are, nor determine where you go in life”, the release said, adding she was a part of Cayman’s foster care system from age 12 to 15, having been removed from her family home due to an unstable environment.

“On her own from age 16, she beat the odds and fought to become a strong, independent, young entrepreneur who saw a need in her community and found a way to meet it,” the release said.

Read the full biographies here


Category: Local News, Youth

Comments (1)

Trackback URL | Comments RSS Feed

  1. Anonymous says:

    Very Proud of this crop of recipients !!! these two in particular.