The vinyl food safe mat looks great to work with, and it is not a bad idea too.
More observations made while decorating the cake with fondant:
- It is definitely more challenging decorating a cake than cupcakes, which are a piece of cake IMHO;
- Not enough buttercream on the cake may be the cause of the fondant tearing off. Isn't this the reason to apply buttercream before the fondant? It acts as a glue;
- Despite the cake eaters' plea to have a less sweater cake, it might not be possible to have a non sweet cake, due to the chemical interactions of the ingredients.