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Cayman Islands Proud of Them Round 10 bios: Julisa Dilbert, Diego Smith

From Cayman Islands Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands

Julisa Dilbert– Business

Young Caymanian businesswoman Julisa Dilbert is the embodiment of determination, innovation and hard work.

At the tender age of 19, Julisa started a dog walking and pet sitting company.  The idea for her own business came to her while she was working at a dog day care establishment.  She kept hearing clients express their desire for a dog walker or other alternatives to doggy day care and as a result, Happy Paws Cayman was born.  That was 2009.  Fast forward to 2019 and Julisa has nine employees and over 100 clients from West Bay to East End.  She even has employees fly over to the Sister Islands to service her clients when needed.

Happy Paws Cayman is one of the most trusted providers of professional pet sitting and dog walking services in the Cayman Islands because of Julisa who goes above and beyond when it comes to quality customer service and caring for both her animal clients and their parents. Special perks that her customers enjoy include GPS arrival and departure email notifications, GPS Dog Walking Tracker and a PetCam to view their pets at any time.

The company offers care for all kinds of animals including 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. Julisa and her team are trained in First Aid and CPR through ProTrainings Advanced Pet First Aid and CPR Level 3.

Julisa’s caring attitude and business aptitude extends to her employees and community too. Apart from their base salary, each employee receives a phone and gas allowance and a commission for bringing new clients to the company.  Furthermore, she acknowledges her social responsibility by offering any clients with pets adopted from the Humane Society a one-time free service and discounts on their future pet care packages.

Julisa is living proof that where you come from does not define who you are, nor determine where you go in life. 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.

Diego Smith – Career

Twenty-four-year-old Diego Smith is an up and coming culinary artist. Hailing from West Bay, Diego 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.

Academically, he was an average student but he soon discovered that where he truly excelled was in the kitchen. The revelation of his calling came after Diego moved to California in 2014 where Caymanian cuisine was in short supply. His craving for some cooked food from home compelled him to dig deep to recall the recipes that were given to him by his mother as passed on from at least four generations past.

Along with a full stomach came the realisation that he had a knack for cooking and a desire to pursue it as a potential career. 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 also  while in England Diego worked at a Michelin star restaurant [the Hudson Brasserie Quay]. Following on from that success, Diego 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.  Still eager to learn more, he moved on 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.  He was tasked with creating a menu from scratch that would be served to patrons of the establishment.  His creations were so well received that the restaurant has adopted a few and they remain a fixture on the menu.

It has now been four years since Diego decided to pursue the culinary arts profession.  He is still a relatively new chef, learning more about himself and his abilities and experimenting with various types of foods and cooking styles.  He’s constantly seeking ways to hone his craft and has worked in restaurants in four countries.  Here in Cayman he 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 Blue Iguana Grill where he mans the bar.

Diego dreams of opening his own restaurant but for now he’s happy to gain more knowledge and experience both in Cayman and around the world. As Cayman continues to enhance its reputation as the culinary capital of the Caribbean, this young Caymanian chef is poised to play an important role in further raising the country’s profile.



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