Les Arts de la Table: Backcountry Mercantile Bespoke Tablescapes, Amanda Gaudelet’s Elegant Passion
“You know what they say, if you do what you love, you never really work a day in your life,” Amanda confides. “I had contemplated for years about exactly what I wanted ‘to do’ after my career in hospitality,” she continues. “My husband is a restaurateur and formerly a trained French Chef, and while he left that career many moons ago, it is a practice that one never loses. I have always felt compelled to set a beautiful table in honor of his remarkable presentations.”
Backcountry Mercantile was born. Amanda chose the right name for her new venture from her current surroundings…her home is nestled amongst lush vegetation and earthy sounds of nature, in the backcountry of Greenwich, CT. She finds inspiration daily tucked in her peaceful corner of town.
Amanda finds great pleasure in her livelihood, and what she most enjoys is both the creativity and personality that are entwined as a tablescape is being created. The same dishware and glassware can be presented to various people, resulting in totally different presentations. “Receiving images of how others display my bespoke designs likens to receiving the very best present. I become giddy with excitement each and every time,” Amanda tells us.
When Backcounty Mercantile launched the first collection, it was for Holiday 2019…and it sold out! Then they geared up for Spring with that same anticipation. What they didn’t know is what March 2020 would hold for most. As we were hit with a worldwide pandemic, it was natural to panic, in more ways than one. Much to their delight, in an otherwise dismal period, they found that their customers were all seeking a unique way to create and spend special family time at home. Everyone seemed to need some sort of different ideas to ‘zhuzh’ up family time at the table to make it special as we ALL were spending SO much time at home. Their customer base found reasons to celebrate and create these memorable tabletop settings. ‘Lo’ and behold’ Amanda and her team sold out of their second collection!
“While our Spring and Summer collections are smaller than what is offered for Holiday, there is a demand for these pieces, however, they are ordered in smaller batches. Once they sell out, we ask that our customers place a custom order with 8-12 weeks lead time. The idea is to take advantage of the pre-orders before we sell out. Our biggest demand, currently, is for custom ware. Typically, it is for our clients’ wishing to create their very own custom tableware for their homes. We do logos, monograms, family titles, etc. Our bistro ware is very popular,” shares Amanda.
Last summer, Backcountry Mercantile launched their blue and white collection inspired by Amanda’s travels to France. They created both a baroque and Provençal line, and the idea is that the customer can mix and match various pieces from other seasonal lines with this collection. Often, they layer our chargers and dinner plates with different salad plates, for example. The ability to transform an entirely different tabletop is endless with these variations.
Here is a large oval platter from the Provençal line in classic blue & white with one of Amanda’s favorite summer recipes for a refreshing Tomato, Watermelon & Feta Salad (see recipe at the bottom of the blog). Perfect for any sweltering summer day! Amanda serves this all summer long…variations can be made using tomatoes on the vine or heirloom varieties. As far as the cheeses are concerned, ricotta salata can be used as an alternative to feta cheese. Both kinds of cheese crumble easily, so we suggest either slicing or grating them if purchasing in block form. ‘Sugar Baby’ watermelon is usually what is preferred, they are smaller, sweeter, and rounder, and sometimes you may find them to be seedless.
Amanda adds, “This year, we added the blue lobster and the blue hydrangea to our summer pop-up collection, inspired by late summer on Nantucket. We launched the sunflower at the end of last summer, inspired by our travels to the south of France when the sunflower fields were in abundance. We head to Provence this August, and I can’t wait to see what inspiration awaits. It is safe to say that our travels most definitely inspire our collections.”
From this season’s summer Pop Up, these elegant & casual tablescapes can transform any dining experience into a friendly, elevated delight for the senses! Whether it is a beachside ‘lobster boil’ with extended family or an impressive culinary fete of many courses starting with seasonal lobster bisque…this tablescape resounds and summer, sun, and sea!
Two like minds connected when Amanda and Lila (of Squeeze De Citron) met. A collaboration wasn’t far off in both of their minds.
“I was thrilled to have the opportunity to collaborate. While we created the ‘sliced lemon’ to resemble the Squeeze De Citron log, this then sparked the idea to also create a full lemon emblem, which was a popular Spring seller, along with the pineapple,” Amanda says. “It then sparked this idea to create multiple fruits to our ‘add-on’ collection of plates and mugs. I love how when creative minds work together, we can influence and spark creativity in one another. Within this artistic and creative sector of business, the more we support and uplift and cheer each other on, the more we all succeed. I am a big fan of collaborative efforts,” Amanda states.
Sharing the Citron Love…Amanda designed the ‘sliced lemon’ dinnerware! Squeezing the zest out of life with joy and wonder is the feeling one evokes from this citrus-inspired tablescape. Imagine freshly squeezed lemonade, to accompany any awe-inspiring meal that is served at this table!Modeling her very own Squeeze De Citron bag, while traveling in Southwestern France, Amanda gathers all her inspirational data in her head (and maybe in her tote), to come back to the backcountry so she may design, create new collections that awaken your own creative juices.
As summertime has its share of patriotic holidays (Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day)…Backcountry Mercantile has collaborated with FIMA Deruta to create their flag-shaped heart collection. In addition, they enhanced the tablescape with curated vintage glassware sourced from Amanda's travels. Red, white & blue is a classic statement in dinnerware and glassware that will serve you well summer after summer and can be set in a myriad of ways for many patriotic holidays to come. Timeless and memorable!
The Patriotic Collection is perfect for your July 4th festivities...and Labor Day. These were a big hit for Memorial Day in May!
Artist hand painting the Patriotic collection for Backcountry Merchantile. A collection that benefits others while making your table a classic for years to come!
On a personal note, the bistro plates have made their way into Amanda’s home tablescape on a weeknight dinner rotation. When she started to decorate the first home she and her husband purchased, her husband teased her for designing her kitchen to look like a French bistro. She was truly onto something at the time, and she still is! Not much has changed since - ha! The bistro plate happens to be the number one custom seller this year at Backcountry Mercantile!
‘Chez Gaudelet’! We wonder what Amanda’s husband may be cooking up in the kitchen these days? Bistro Collection can be personalized for your family, or for a special occasion. Backcountry mercantile can do it all. Gorgeously scripted, just like you were dining at a French bistro in Paris, or the south of France!
Backcountry Mercantile is where they meld vintage treasures with new, carefully curated, and sought-after ones. They believe that setting a table that not only looks elegant but one that also tells a story, is what becomes the foundation of a memorable celebration. 'Les Arts de la Table'.
“At Backcountry Mercantile, our philosophy is that we believe that setting a table that not only looks elegant, but one that also tells a story, is what becomes the foundation of a memorable celebration. Setting a table is like dressing oneself with jewelry. You can be as simple as you’d like, or as ornate as you’d like. No two tabletops are identical, and we are here to help our customers create their very own personalized tablescapes at home, Amanda concludes.
Please peruse all of the Backcountry Mercantile incredible wares for sale. Please go to: https://www.backcountrymercantile.com or check them out on Instagram: @backcountrymercantile
Recipe mentioned above:Tomato, Watermelon & Feta Salad
Serves: 8-10 people
- 6-8 Organic Tomatoes on the Vine (Alternatively you could use organic heirloom tomatoes of varying shapes and color).
- One Sugar Baby Watermelon (or small seedless)
- One block of Feta or Ricotta Salata
- Several Bunches of Fresh Basil
- Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh Jalapeños (optional)
- You will need one large flat tray
- Slice the You will yield about five slices per medium-sized tomato. It is important that they lay flat at the bottom of the tray.
- Season the tomatoes with salt, pepper and olive
- Spread leaves of basil all over the top of the tomato
- Slice the watermelon into pieces of equal size and width to the tomatoes.
- Season the watermelon with salt, pepper and olive
- Spread the leaves of basil all over the top of the watermelon
- Cover your salad with plastic film and place it in the fridge for an hour. This is an important step, as it will allow the tomatoes and watermelon to absorb the salt and the fragrances of the olive oil and During this process, the salt helps reduce the water content of both the tomatoes and watermelon. It also intensifies their natural taste and sweetness.
- Take the salad out of the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to serving.
- Place the Feta or the Ricotta Salata on top of the salad and add a few leaves of fresh basil for a final garnish.
- The salad should be kept at room temperature (72 degrees) for 30 minutes before
- If you and your guests enjoy a little 'kick', slice some fresh jalapeños to add to the top!