This is the next in our series of educators featured in our Bake Twentyfive issue. Each weekday, we will spotlight a new instructor or educator in the fields of baking, pastry, and chocolate.

Mark Seaman was first inspired to pursue pastry by his grandfather, who owned and operated a bakery for 40 years in Sharon, Pennsylvania. Seaman studied baking and pastry arts in Chicago, undertaking additional intensive training with several legendary cake, sugar and chocolate artists, including Nicholas Lodge, Colette Peters and Rosa Viacava de Ortega.

For almost a decade, Seaman owned his own multiple-award-winning celebration cake company, Marked for Dessert, in Chicago. He currently is a technical advisor for the research and development group at Barry Callebaut.

As culinary applications chef at Barry Callebaut, Seaman is always open to unique opportunities to promote the art of cake making and chocolate work around the globe.

Barry Callebaut’s Mona Lisa fondant was created with a unique blend of fats and starch-free sugar to provide a longer working time with no cracking or tearing, even on shaped cakes, Seaman says. That helps both newer and seasoned decorators alike, he says, because it reduces the stress of covering the cakes in a timely manner and increases the ability to cover even more extreme designs. “This same fat matrix creates the perfect pliability decorators need to cover over-the-top designs,” Seaman says. “Even when exposed to humid or dry conditions, Mona Lisa’s fondant stands its ground and does not become sticky, tacky or dry.” The other important aspect of the functionality of fondant, Seaman says, is to provide ways for decorators to create high-impact designs using fewer mediums and techniques. Mona Lisa fondant rolls so thinly, he says, that decorators are using it for techniques that used to be reserved for gum paste, such as quilling.

On trend at the moment, Seaman says, are bright, bold colors that not only are more appealing to the eye, but that “pop” on social media. Proving the point, the 2018 Pantone Color of the Year is ultraviolet.

You can’t talk about cake without mentioning two other crucial elements, Seaman says. “Color and texture are the first two things people take note of when they first see a cake,” he says. “In today’s world, all decorators want to create an ‘Instagram-worthy’ cake that is immediately eye-catching.”

Seaman has a watchful eye on current trends in cake decorating. When nature-inspired trends captured the cake world in 2017, he was quick to share innovative ideas for gemstone (or geode) wedding cakes. “I think a lot of cakes will be created based on the bride’s birthstone.”