Anthony Bourdain Talks His Long-Distance Relationship with Girlfriend Asia Argento

Anthony Bourdain has happily complicated his already hectic travel schedule to accommodate his relationship with Rome-based actress Asia Argento.

In this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday, the chef-turned-TV-host, who spends about 250 days a year shooting his CNN show Parts Unknown, opens up about what makes their long-distance romance work so well.

“I want to spend as much time with her as I can,” says Bourdain—even if that means getting on a plane more often than he already does.

The globetrotter never shoots two cities back-to-back. Instead he reserves about five days a month to spend with Ariane, his 11-year-old daughter with his ex-wife Ottavia Busia in New York, followed by trips to visit Argento, 42, in Italy.

It helps that the actress, whom he met when the two collaborated on the Rome episode of Parts Unknown in 2016, is heavily involved in his creative process. She recently directed an upcoming episode set in Hong Kong and Bourdain will often consult Argento for her rich knowledge of music and film when putting together the series.

Asked if her presence has made him softer on and off set, Bourdain admits, “I’m happier for sure. It’s nice to be with somebody who I see as a peer.”

“She’s been in this circus since she was nine,” he adds. “She knows so much more about so many of the things that are important to me—music, books, film, the technical aspects of film, and just the weird state of celebrity, being somebody that people come up to. That’s something she’s dealt with a lot longer than me. I was 44 before that started happening. Whereas, it’s been like that for her since she was a kid.”

PEOPLE spent three days with Anthony Bourdain while he filmed an episode of Parts Unknown. Pick up the latest issue, on newsstands Friday, to get a closer look at his life on the road, his ultimate travel tips and secrets from the set.

Their shared priorities also clearly make these two a perfect match.

“This woman likes to work. She is strong, independent, creative, and needs to have an obsession, needs to make things,” says Bourdain. “I think we’re both relieved by the fact that we both respect each other’s work. Nobody’s ever going to say, ‘Oh, but you promised we were going to go to the beach.’ No, you get a gig, that’s it. Work first.”

Parts Unknown airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on CNN.