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A Newcomer Arrives in Lake Louise’s Culinary Scene


Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise hosts visitors from around the world and employs an international roster of talent, including Maxim Sayapin, general manager of two of the hotel’s restaurants. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

When Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise needed to hire a general manager for two of its large dining venues, they looked for an accomplished leader who could take care of all the pillars to ensure the hotel ran successful restaurant operations. Pillars that included guest services, colleague rapport, brand management and fulfilling owner philosophy and goals. It was a job of collaboration between the various stakeholders within the organization, working closely with the executive chef and wine sommelier. 

No easy task in a sector noted for employee stress and burnout, at a luxurious destination hotel in Alberta that draws guests from around the world. They found their ideal in Maxim Sayapin, a multilingual immigrant with two degrees in hospitality management, and broad hospitality experience around the world. We spoke with the native or Russia less than a year after he emigrated to Canada.

Vacay.ca: How did you become interested in the wonderful world of hospitality?

Maxim Sayapin: I divide my life into two distinct parts — the 10-and-a-half years at school when I was training to be a competitive swimmer. By the time I was ready to go to university, I realized I had reached my competitive swimming limit. I was ready to discover another passion and dedicate my life to it. My parents were both chefs and the food-and-beverage field seemed like a natural and really interested me. At 17, I applied for, and was accepted into a new international tourism and hospitality program from France. What we learned in class, for two years, we put into practice for the next two years. I worked in culinary, then made the transition to front of house. 

maxim sayapin - hotelier

Hotelier Maxim Sayapin has worked at luxury properties around the globe and is now at the iconic Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise in Alberta. (Photo supplied by Maxim Sayapin)

Vacay.ca: With a degree in International Hotel Management, did you have your sights set on seeing the world as a young student?

MS: Absolutely. I started to travel at age 12 and the passion really took off when I was at university and did internships in France and China. I still love travelling and have been to 58 countries on every continent except Antarctica, which I hope to visit someday. 

Vacay.ca: Of all the countries you have visited, do you have a favourite?

MS: I loved Australia for surfing, Germany for its Christmas markets, Manchester in England for shopping, and Thailand for food and entertainment. I met my wife when we were working in the United Arab Emirates. When we began to look for a place to settle and eventually raise a family, we chose Canada for its diversity and inclusion. My wife is in the customer service industry. Neither Romania, where she is from, nor Russia, where I grew up, are stable countries at this time. We received permanent residence status just before the COVID-19 pandemic, so had to delay our move until July 2021. We are aiming for Canadian citizenship. I love Alberta — the mountains, the scenery, the open spaces and the slower paced lifestyle compared to Moscow with a population of 20 million.

Vacay.ca: What has travel done for you?

MS: It has helped shape me as a person and as a professional. I learned that there are many angles in every situation. We all look at things from a different perspective, depending on where we are from, the education we received and the environment that we live and work in. By travelling I had exposure to many perspectives, which helps me every day in the decision-making process and working collaboratively with the team. I always try to get a pitch-in from each member around the table. With a healthy discussion we usually get a better decision.

Vacay.ca: You have a level 2 Wine and Spirit Education Trust certificate and a Highfield level 4 International Award in Managing Food Safety. How important are these credentials for your position?

MS: Paramount. Particularly in the time of COVID. Food safety around the world has been neglected for too long. Wine, in a formal dining setting, is an integral element to any meal. It’s important that we offer a diverse range of wines to complement the food we serve. In addition, to choosing wines with our sommelier, I deal with wine producers and agents from an administrative standpoint. 


Among the eternal highlights at Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise is Afternoon Tea. (Photo courtesy of Fairmont Chateau Lake Louise)

Vacay.ca: What does your current job entail?

MS: I am responsible for two dining venues. The Fairview Bar and Restaurant features a seasonal-inspired menu in an elegant setting and Walliser Stube is an intimate space in an upscale pub setting.  

Vacay.ca: How closely do you work with the executive chef and head sommelier?

MS: Very closely, on a daily basis. We work hand-in-hand during service to ensure the flow is smooth. We meet daily to discuss menus and monthly to plan promotions. Canadian wines aren’t well known in areas where I have been working, so I am learning about them now. I just discovered an incredible 2019 Synchromesh Riesling from the Okanagan.

Vacay.ca:  Where have you travelled in Canada and where are you looking forward to visiting?

MS: Prior to moving here, when working for an airline, I had several layovers in Toronto and was able to explore downtown and visit Niagara Falls. In the last year, I have been getting to know Alberta — Edmonton, Calgary, Jasper — and Radium Hot Springs. Next on the list will be more of B.C.

Vacay.ca: What are some of the best things you have enjoyed in Lake Louise and Banff?

MS: Nature. In my spare time, I love to snowboard.   

Vacay.ca: What has impressed you about Canadian cuisine?

MS: I like that we use a lot of game foods — elk, bison and wild birds. We see a trend to comfort foods with taste overtaking presentation. In Europe and Asia, there is greater emphasis on the visual – i.e. plating. Comfort food is more important here. 

Vacay.ca: What are your thoughts on the war Russia is currently waging?

MS: The thing we learn in hospitality is not to discuss politics. I prefer to leave that to the politicians. The impact is enormous and greater for some people than others. I feel the biggest impact worldwide will be the long-term economic impact. I am very fortunate to be here, but I worry about my family back home. 

Vacay.ca:  What advice do you wish you had given your 25-year-old self?

MS: So far, I’ve been living a meaningful life. I took risks living and working abroad. I wouldn’t have changed anything. But I would tell my 25-year-old self to be aware of the stress that comes along with work and the importance of keeping a work-life balance.