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Jean Paul Zapata, Director of Public Relations


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Photo of Jean Paul ZapataQ. If this were your last day on Earth, where in Oakland would you dine?
A. I would do a self-guided tasting tour of Oakland, starting at the food trucks outside Oakland Museum of California on a Friday night, letting the smells be my guide. Then I’d do the tacos al pastor at Taqueria El Paisa in Fruitvale. I’d run back to Uptown for three greyhounds with fresh grapefruit at Café Van Kleef to wash it all down before luxuriating into the tasting menu at Commis. Dessert would be fried chicken that my friend Jaymee’s mom makes because I haven’t found anything tastier. 

Q. Where is the first place you take your friends and family from out of town in Oakland?
A. Lake Merritt because it’s got something for everyone; nearby bars, restaurants and coffee shops, views of our downtown skyline, grassy lawns for playing games and relaxing in the sun, boat rentals, and 3.2 mile path for walkers, runners and bikers.

Q. What’s your favorite secret spot in Oakland?
A. The Oakland Museum of California is a beautiful, sprawling campus, and it’s a great jumping point to explore the rest of Oakland’s neighborhoods. Before heading off somewhere for food and drinks, I like to walk up to the highest platform in the gardens where you get an amazing view looking north onto Lake Merritt. It always surprises people.

Q. Where would someone most likely find you on the weekend?
A. The Redwood Regional Park. So many people don’t know Oakland is bordered by a giant redwood forest. It’s like walking into Narnia, a completely different world.

Q. Describe your Oakland in 3 words?
A. Irreverent. Courageous. Bright.

Q. Where is one of your favorite travel destinations in the world?
A. Bali. If you told me you had my ticket to fly out today, I’d go barefoot. I’ve only been once. I still remember the peoples’ laughs at my pronunciation, their smiles when I pronounced better, and the land has such a beauty. Plus: sarongs.

Q. What do you love about your job?
A. I love that the character of the destination is reflected in the vibrancy of the people I meet and work with. It’s also an amazing destination to promote. Getting to know Oakland not just as my new home, but as my job, continues to teach, challenge and inspire me.

Q. Describe who you are in 140 characters or less.
A. Cheeky Colombian/Peruvian Virgo. Tequila and pitbull lover. Pleasure activist. Traveler of Space and Time. I move. A LOT. Mover+Shaker.

Q. Best place to shop in Oakland?
A. I love walking up and down Piedmont Ave. checking out the vintage stores. I’ll often walk up and then walk back down and I’ll see things I completely missed the first go-round.