Bobby Flay Says Girlfriend Christina Pérez Is a 'Special Lady' and Talks Their 'Fun Summer' Plans (Exclusive)

"I'm so proud of her," Flay tells PEOPLE of Pérez, who recently launched a newsletter

christina perez/instagram
christina perez/instagram

Bobby Flay's jam-packed schedule isn't getting in the way of love.

The Food Network star and his girlfriend Christina Pérez first went public with their relationship in November 2021 after a year of quietly dating. With Flay's busy schedule that requires lots of traveling, he spoke with PEOPLE about how they "stay connected."

"We try to balance it all out because we're both very busy," he says, adding that he was just away from home, filming more than 50 episodes of television over the past few months.

"So when we have to put our heads down, we go to work and we are able to give each other the space that we need," he says. "But at the same time, we still stay connected for sure."

When they're back together in the same place, Flay — who just announced a new restaurant, Brasserie B, inside Las Vegas' Caesars Palace — says they recharge by doing "the same thing I was just doing while I was working, which is cooking."

"But it's definitely a different pace and a different environment," he adds. "Christina likes to cook, as well. But I mean honestly, I definitely do the bulk of the cooking and we like having people over for dinner parties or for lunch parties."

Related:Bobby Flay Surprises Girlfriend Christina Pérez with Pomeranian Puppy Allspice

Kristina Bumphrey/Shutterstock
Kristina Bumphrey/Shutterstock

Related:Bobby Flay's Daughter Sophie Says It's Been 'So Lovely' Getting to Know His Girlfriend Christina Pérez

For Flay, serving up his favorite dishes is ingrained in his love language.

"That's the way I like to show my appreciation to my friends and my family, by cooking for them. And so what's better than a table filled with some delicious food and great wine. That's the way we like to enjoy ourselves," he says.

Pérez, 42, a freelance writer who just launched a lifestyle newsletter called A Friend Indeed, is getting tons of praise from her boyfriend.

"I'm so proud of her," he says. "And everybody says she's just such a great writer and has such a soothing touch with her pen."

A particularly poignant example of that is Pérez's latest newsletter centered around her inner conflict regarding having children or not.

"I've never wanted kids. Growing up, I dreamed of other stuff—travel, work, marriage, art, cities, homes—but rarely, ever, of being a mom. For me, kids were a 'maybe someday' or a 'might be nice.' I could see their appeal, but not how they'd fit into my future life," writes Pérez.

She added that she "rarely questioned" her path until last year. After working out her feelings in therapy, Pérez writes that she loves her life "just as it" is and has settled into a new role as a godmother to a friend's child.

"She's a special lady," Flay tells PEOPLE.

This summer, the pair have big European travel plans.

"We're looking for a fun summer," Flay says. "We're going to a wedding on the Amalfi Coast next month, which is always fun to be invited to. We're going to try to spend some time in London, as well. It's one of our favorite cities. So we're going to kick it around."

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Flay, who is set to open Brasserie B in late 2023, tells PEOPLE Pérez is a huge help when it comes to putting together his vision.

"Christina has spectacular style and she's just one of these people that just gets it. She understands style and class and if something doesn't seem right to her, she'll tell me," he says. "Christina's definitely one of the first people that gets a peek at anything that I do in terms of a new restaurant, whether it's the decor, she has a lot to say about that for sure. And of course, the menu. She loves that."

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