Guerrilla Gourmet serves up hurricane relief (w/video)

Rey Castillo By Rey Castillo

Aug. 28, 2017 at 10:12 p.m.
Updated Aug. 28, 2017 at 10:20 p.m.

James Canter, left, chats with James Foot, 32, in the kitchen of Guerrilla Gourmet.

James Canter, left, chats with James Foot, 32, in the kitchen of Guerrilla Gourmet.   Olivia Vanni for The Victoria Advocate

If you're in the same room as James Canter, you'll likely hear the question, "Are you hungry?" Or, "Do you want something to eat?"

Those questions arose when Hurricane Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 storm Friday night, leaving thousands of Crossroads residents without water or power.

"I just started cooking, and I haven't stopped," said Canter, who owns the Guerrilla Gourmet restaurant located on the first floor of the Victoria Advocate. He has cooked food for more than 30 years.

"When the city lost electricity, first responders and people without power saw our lights on," he said. "Now, we've been able to feed everyone."

Canter, 45, wasted no time getting his staff together to begin serving free meals to anyone who showed up at the restaurant.

"When people started showing up, I realized we had a purpose and we had to do something," he said.

All he asked is that the customers pay what they could or wanted to, with the donations going to the cause.

"My wife and I began cooking for the first 72 hours. Then we started getting volunteers, other chefs, and it continued to get bigger and bigger," he said.

In a five-day span, Canter and his staff have fed more than 4,000 people in the Crossroads.

"We're able to do this because of the Victoria Advocate," Canter said. "The Advocate has been a blessing to me and my family. The Roberts, the Eastons, as well as Peggy Venglar, got me in this spot to be in business."

Canter's dedication to cooking began more than 30 years ago in his family's restaurant, House of Seafood in Elkton, Md.

"I love food," he said. "My whole family cooked, and that's what inspired me to cook."

Canter was born in Elkton before moving to Tampa, Fla., at the age of 13.

Guerrilla Gourmet, which started as just a food truck before expanding, has been active in Victoria for the past three years.

"This is a wonderful thing that Guerrilla Gourmet is doing," said Victoria resident Debra Rhodes. "This is the first hot meal I've had in about five days."

Rhodes, 64, and Eufaula Hester, 50, of Seadrift, were a few of the thousands who were still without power.

"This is awesome," Hester said. "I wish they had this set up in every county. We very much appreciate it."

Canter encourages those who are hungry or without food to stop by the restaurant at 9:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.

"Food is our common thread as a race," Canter said. "Food brings people together. Just seeing the smiles of what a simple bowl of soup can bring is incredible."

Canter said there is no set time when the restaurant will stop serving food as part of the hurricane relief.

"As long as there are people who need food and comfort, we're going to give it to them," he said. "We're in it for the long haul."


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