Ash, May and May's little brother Max are now en route to Rustboro City—and they're hungry! No one remembered to pack lunch. As they fight over one remaining cookie, Ash remembers how nice it was to have Brock cooking for him and Misty. He's quickly brought back to reality when a Taillow takes off with the cookie. The gang follows Taillow to a grove filled with apple trees. Ash and May eagerly shake the trees, hoping to make the apples drop to the ground. Instead of apples, Ash and May shake loose an angry flock of territorial Taillow. There's too many for Ash, Max, and May to handle alone. Out of nowhere, Brock appears and saves the day with his Forretress—and his incredible soup! They manage to defeat and feed all of the Taillow except the one who took the cookie. Taillow are naturally resilient, but this particular one is especially tough. Ash can't seem to defeat it, so instead he decides to catch it.
While walking in the Petalburg Woods, May begins to feel hungry while Max complains that he hasn't seen a new Pokémon yet. The siblings start to bicker about what to do next, pulling Ash in two directions until he and Pikachu yell for them to stop. Ash settles the argument with a compromise, they'll take a quick lunch break and then decide which way to go. However, the trio realizes they haven’t brought lunch with them. May and Max are quick to criticize Ash, given he has plenty of travel experience. Pikachu is cheery as it opens a can of Pokémon food, but his supply has also run dry. Ash apologizes, then wishes Brock was with them, telling May and Max about him, especially his delicious cooking. Team Rocket, on the other hand, are happily enjoying some sandwiches and plan to target the group while they're weak from hunger. Soon, Max gets his emergency stash, a pack of chocolate cookies, out of his backpack. However, it turns out Max only has one biscuit remaining. They all agree to share it, when suddenly a Taillow swoops in and snatches it. They chase after the thief, with May incensed over the food theft while Max is excited that he finally found a Pokémon. Ash also uses the pursuit to check his Pokédex, and he is quietly impressed by Taillow's reported stamina.
May yells out to Taillow, but Max urges her to calm down as Taillow usually live in large flocks. The Taillow soon perches in a tree and happily scoffs down the chocolate. Max is thrilled that Taillow enjoyed the treat, but May collapses to the ground in hunger pain. Luckily Pikachu alerts them to the strewn apple cores, and they find themselves surrounded by a grove of fruit-filled trees. Ash tells Pikachu to shock down some fruit; however, numerous Taillow appear and snatch it up before it hits the ground. Then more Taillow appear and surround the group, looking angry. Ash wonders if it's because they're in the Taillow's territory. Ash orders Pikachu to Thunderbolt them; the Taillow are knocked down but recover quickly. A second Thunderbolt is also shaken off. Jessie, James and Meowth spy from the bushes, and they are impressed with the Taillow's resilience. They speculate that catching Pikachu would be easy if the fierce Taillow were on their side. Meanwhile, Pikachu continues to shock the Taillow, hitting one that May spots as the leader. Max notes that the chocolate on its beak marks it as the cookie thief. The Taillow shrugs off Pikachu's attack and leads the others in a mass attack on the group. They prepare to be hit hard when a figure appears, throwing a Fast Ball and commanding Forretress to use Explosion. It is Brock to the rescue.
Ash is surprised to see his old traveling companion again. Brock reveals that everything is now fine at the Pewter Gym, so he decided to travel to the Hoenn region. He explains that Professor Birch directed him towards Rustboro City. Ash asks whether Brock will join him again and Brock agrees to tag along. Introductions are made, and then Brock offers everyone some rice balls only to discover they have been stolen from his backpack. He offers to cook up some stew instead. A little way off, the Rocket trio makes use of the Taillow, bribing them with the stolen rice balls to capture Pikachu. Meanwhile, the chocolate-beaked Taillow shows up to challenge Pikachu, and Ash enthusiastically agrees. They battle over a stream, but the Taillow, despite taking several Thunderbolts and a massive Thunder attack, refuses to back down. Brock tells Ash to stop the fight by catching it. Ash throws a Poké Ball and catches Taillow. Ash calls his new Taillow out, Brock spritzes it with a Super Potion to help replenish its energy. Ash wipes the chocolate off its beak with Misty's handkerchief. Taillow soon climbs onto Ash's shoulder, and together they perform a victory pose.
Team Rocket then makes their appearance with their flock of Taillow behind them. Brock is not surprised to learn the Team Rocket is still pursuing Ash, but he becomes mad when he learns that they stole his rice balls. May calls on Torchic, however, it is too enthusiastic and walks straight into a boulder. She quickly recalls Torchic back to its Poké Ball. As the Rocket trio order the Taillow to attack, Brock's cooking alarm goes off, announcing the stew is ready. Brock offers to share with the hungry Taillow flock, who loses interest in fighting. Team Rocket mourns the failure of their plan, but goes on the attack anyway, figuring Pikachu will be weak with hunger. However, they get blasted off, as Ash informs them that Pikachu ate Brock's Pokémon food already. Later, the Taillow flock fly off after enjoying the stew, saying goodbye to their friend. Ash calls for the group to hit the road, but Brock reminds them that the dishes need washing first.