So just to explain the timeline and to stop any confusion, the main story takes place during the summer, but the holiday specials take place after the first arc.
"Silence, everyone." called a middle-aged Japanese man in a black suit.
He stood before a roundtable, seated by several individuals in either chef or servant uniforms. Two of which, happened to Honey and Maple, dressed in their regular attire. They all sat with a notepad in front of them, jotting down notes as the Japanese man displayed a presentation on a teleprompter. With a slight wave of his hand, the male had the lights dimmed to help present.
"I have called you all here due to a very special occasion. That occasion being the 50th anniversary of Ueda Kaede and Ueda Nanako, my parents," the male then showed a black and white picture of a young Japanese couple during their wedding. "Like most couples from past generations, they knew how to make their relationship last. Through thick and thin, they know that marriage is a long, unwinding road that takes great patience to travel through. And it's that patience that makes me wish the same for my relationship with Jasmine."
During the lecture, Maple wrote down several bullet points worth of notes, ignoring her sister who busied herself with her phone in her lap.
"To celebrate the milestone in their marriage, I would like to hold a banquet in their honor. It will take place the following Friday and it is mandatory that all of you have your part in this. Because it means so much to me, I cannot afford to be responsible for your mistakes. Servants are expected to decorate the ballroom for the banquet, your budget is $500,000. Please don't buy any cheap décor, have some respect for our guests. Servers, not only will you be handing out the meals, but you will also determine what dining ware shall be used. Again, $500,000 for the budget, nothing cheap. Chefs and my daughters, you will be in charge of the menu. To Honey and Maple, I would like to see both of you think of an idea for the main dish and do so with little to no bickering, please. That will be all for now, I hope there are no questions because I'm not repeating myself... good. Now, off to work."
Following the meeting, the twins strolled down the long hallway of their mansion back to their rooms. Honey was still on her phone, not paying attention to the scowl Maple had on her face, unamused with her indifference towards the banquet. Typical of her sister to not care about what her family did and the fact that her parents liked to shower Maple with constant praise didn't help matters much. Glancing down at her notepad behind her arm, the elder twin sister turned back to Honey.
"Did you get all of that?" the violet-clad twin asked.
"Get what?" glowered Honey, not fond of the patronizing tone her sister used.
"Ugh... I don't know why I asked. Of course, you didn't. Can I at least see your notepad?"
Without warning, Maple snatched the notepad from under her twin's arm and began to flip through the pages, to see if she jotted anything down.
"Give it back, you moron! Give it!" snapped Honey, trying to take back the notepad, but her sister swiveled around to evade her swatting arm.
"Hmm... just as I thought, nothing but blankness." Maple remarked.
"It's not entirely blank, idiot! Check the very last page!"
"Why would you leave something at the very back of the pad instead of the front? Are you that ignorant? ...huh, I can barely make out these scribbles. Honey, how it is possible that your handwriting gets worse every year?"
"Just shut up! Are you finished bothering me 'cause I have more important things to do." scowled the yellow-clad twin, taking back her notebook.
"Which were never important to begin with, I presume," added the violet-clad twin. "Here's a brief pop quiz: what did father say we have to do for the banquet?"
"Uh, cook something?"
"Yes, but cook what?"
"Oh..." Maple moaned, clasping a hand over her face as she shook her head.
"What?! I blanked out back here, alright?" Honey confessed.
"I know you did. It wasn't hard to see you were more concerned about your phone. Anyway, father asked us to work together to create a main dish for the banquet and I hope that you won't make this a teeth-pulling experience."
"What's that supposed to mean? It's not my fault you have horrible ideas!"
"Yet, those 'horrible' ideas are accepted more than yours."
"Tch, that's only because mom and dad like you more."
"True, but that's on a count of your lack of support towards the business. It's not difficult to be pleasant and cooperative when working." the bun-wearing redhead scolded.
"Whatever. I'm off to brainstorm ideas, so you can screw off and go back to sucking up to our parents." spat the ponytailed girl with a bitter glare, heading back for her room.
"Suit yourself, I planned on finding inspiration without you anyway. Don't procrastinate, little sister."
"Ugh, you came out seven minutes before I did! That still doesn't make you the older one!"
"To you, it doesn't. But I'll always have seniority over you, whether you like it or not. Farewell, little sister." the elder twin turned around and strolled off.
"Ugh, she can be so annoying! …I don't need her to help me with making the main dish, I'll show everyone that I'm just as good a cook as she is!" the younger twin said to herself.
"Honey, you're not talking to yourself again, are you?" hollered Maple from near the end of the hall.
"Oh, just screw off already!"
The next day, Maple took the liberty of showing the chefs how to prepare the dishes suggested for the banquet's menu. First, they were going over the appetizers. Being the strict instructor she prided herself on, the elder twin had to make sure everything appeared perfect, even if it meant scolding them harshly for the smallest mistakes. Strolling through the busy kitchen, Maple peeked behind the chef's shoulders to see how they fared.
"These appetizers have to be flawless, you hear me? Flawless. There's no room for error here, remember the family motto: success is the only option. Is anyone ready to have theirs tasted?" questioned Maple.
"I have the sauce prepared, Miss. Maple." one of the chefs offered.
"May I have a sample?"
Receiving a mixing spoon with a small helping of magenta sauce, Maple took a taste of it and shut her eyes as she carefully surveyed the taste.
"Barely any cornstarch. Way too much acidity, I wouldn't think of serving it like this. It's unacceptable and you know it." the Japanese girl critiqued.
"Yes, Miss. Maple. Would you like me to prepare another batch?" the chef asked with sweat pouring from his forehead.
"Please, throw this one away and start over. Mess it up again and you're fired, do you understand?"
"Understood, Miss. Maple."
Sighing as she took one more lap around the kitchen, Maple continued to observe the chefs and was surprised to see one of them with flames rising from their pan.
"Oh, no, no, no!" the redhead shoved the chef aside and tossed the fiery pan at a nearby sink. "Just how much oil did you use?"
"Only about a two tablespoons-ow!" began the chef before the girl smacked him in the face.
"You dolt, you were supposed to only one tablespoon and one teaspoon! That was the very first thing I told you when preparing this! Are you hard of hearing?!"
"N-No, Miss. Maple."
"Then, why didn't you listen?"
"I... ow!" the chef took another sharp smack to the face.
"As I assumed. Hang up your apron, you're fired." declared Maple with a blank expression.
"But Miss. Maple, you can't do this! This is the only good job I can get nowadays!"
"You should've thought about that before you decided to be careless. You have ten minutes to gather your belongings and leave or I'll security escort you."
"Miss. Maple, please-" pleaded the chef.
"Or better yet, I can have them take you out right now." the bun-wearing girl deepened her scowl.
"Okay, I'll go. I'm sorry for everything.
"You should be."
Having done her fair share of critiques, Maple decided to take a quick break in the garden and there, she found Honey at the table with a notepad.
"Afternoon, dear sister. What unproductive things have you been doing in the past hour?" teased the elder twin, taking her seat across from her sister.
"For your information, I've been working on my main dish. Oh, and look! I wrote down notes in readable handwriting, wanna see?" Honey spat dryly.
"I would, but then I would know what you're planning. You wouldn't want your horrible ideas to be spoiled, would you?"
"Please, I have brilliant ideas."
"That's debatable," Maple sighed once more, placing a hand on her cheek. "As for me, I haven't done much for mine. Mostly because I've been busy babysitting the chefs. Even had to fire one of them."
"Oh, how tragic," Honey rolled her eyes, still focused on her notebook. "Why don't you go back to babysitting them and leave me alone, okay?"
"I will after my break. I just wanted to see how you were doing is all and to be certain that your main dish will be nothing compared to mine."
"Is that right? Well, sister, since you seem so confident, why don't we have a Dining Duel on during the banquet?" posed the yellow-clad girl.
"A Dining Duel, you say?" the violet-clad twin perked a thin brow.
"Are you deaf? Let's have a cook-off to see who has the better main dish."
"Hmm... I see nothing wrong with adding a little excitement to the dinner. Alright, little sister, I accept your challenge. I hope whatever idea you have can blow mine out of the water."
"Oh, it will. And then, everyone will know you're not the five-star chef you claim to be."
"If that will help you sleep better, Honey. You keep making chicken-scratches in your notebook, I have work to finish." the elder twin stood from her seat and went back to the mansion with a wave. "Best of luck to you!"
"Right back at you!" hollered the younger twin, retreating back to her notes. "Keep up the cocky charade, sis. Don't surprised if it blows up in your face."
The sisters wasted no time in working on their main dishes. Once they were finished brainstorming, they each spent a good portion of time in the kitchen to test their creations. From how relaxed Maple appeared with her first few dishes, she definitely seemed confident in winning the duel. Honey, however, didn't appear as fortunate. Despite conjuring mouth-watering pasta dishes, she felt whatever she offered would be easily overwhelmed by her sister's entry, but it wasn't like the younger twin to throw in the towel early. It could be the one opportunity where she could snatch Maple's glory from her parents, no way she would let it go to waste.
There were only three days left until the banquet and Honey took a bubble bath to unwind after another unfruitful cooking session. At first, she thought going against Maple wouldn't be that difficult compared the other matches they had. But that was before the prissy teen realized if she lost, not only would she be a laughingstock to her family, but to about a hundred guests. Most of which were notorious when it came to critiquing high-end cuisine. Maybe the girl needed to take a different approach to her strategy, then again, it might be hopeless, seeing that her sister was a technician before a chef. Finding the perfect ways to counter a dish with the right ingredients and preparation happened to be one of Maple's hidden talents and something her sister needed to watch out for.
"Ugh, why am I getting so worked up over this? Am I really that nervous about losing to Mape?" grumbled the Japanese girl, sinking lower into the bathtub with her nose kissing the bubbles. "I need to counter her super-extravagant dish with one that's a thousand times better, but that's just it... what can I make that can top hers?"
"Honey! Are you done brooding to yourself? I would like to take my bath sometime tonight." sneered Maple from outside the bathroom door.
"There's six other bathrooms, use one!"
"But this one is in our bedroom. It would be more convenient to use it, would it not?"
"Just give me five minutes." sighed Honey, hoping she would've enjoyed her bath had her twin not interrupted her.
"Five minutes, little sister, no longer than that. Your time starts now." the elder twin seemed to have started a timer from the beeping that sounded.
Two days were left until the banquet and the twins had left the kitchen after helping the chefs with the menu. On their way back to their bedroom, the sister found their parents walking to them.
"Maple, Honey," greeted the twins' mother as she clasped her hands. "I assume that the food preparation for the banquet is running smoothly?"
"Yes, mother, the chefs should have the menu memorized by the time of the dinner." replied Maple with a nod.
"That's what I like to hear, my dear. I expect nothing less from you," beamed the twins' father, facing his attention to his other daughter. "Oh, and you, Honey?"
"I've just been working on my main dish..." answered Honey, passively.
"And... I taught the cooks how to prepare the gnocchi. What else?"
The girls' mother sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose, "Oh, Honey... why must you always slack during your work? Is it too much to push yourself to do more?"
"But I spent the last couple days putting together a main dish, is that not what you told me to do?" argued the ponytail-sporting twin with a glare.
"And you haven't done anything else besides that? Pitiful. Truly pitiful on your part, young lady. Also, didn't I tell you that the main dish was something you needed to work on with your sister?" questioned the father.
"Yeah, but-" Honey tried to explain.
"I'll answer that, father. I tried to convince her that we should cooperate, but she was too caught up with her ego, once again, and decided to do the work herself." Maple interrupted with a raised hand, trying not to smile at the growl her sister gave her.
"Is that so?" the twins' mother put her hands on her hips.
"Yes, and on top of that, she had the nerve to challenge me to a Dining Duel, in order to pit our dishes against each other."
"But you accepted it, why complain about it?!" the prissy teen snapped, gripping her fists.
"Shizuka ni shite!" the father barked with his arms raised to silence his daughters. "I'm going to assume this will take place during the banquet?"
"Oh, so much for this being a pleasant gathering. I will allow the food fight to occur, however, you must refrain yourself from embarrassing me, your mother, and your grandparents. Is that clear?"
"Yes, dad." nodded Honey as her parents turned the other way and walked off.
"See what happens when your ego gets the better of you?" Maple spoke.
"Just shut up. I gotta back to work..." the younger twin grumbled back to the kitchen.
"Huh... well, that's a rare sentence."
"I heard that, you brat!"
Later at night, Honey still searched for the perfect signature dish to use and when the clock barely struck at the crack of dawn, she may have found a winner. Taking a bite of her dish, the redhead slowly grinned to herself and nodded.
"...that's it, this is sure to put that moron in her place. Consider this victory mine, big sis."
The banquet had finally begun; in a ballroom decorated with burgundy and white streamers and banners with "Happy 50th Anniversary, Kaede & Nanako!" written in English and Japanese, an abundance of guests in formal wear had shown up. Before the meal began, the guests chatted with each other while the twins' parents were reuniting with the couple of honor. The twins' father's grandparents were an elderly Japanese couple; Kaede donned in a black hakama and Nanako came dressed in a white kimono with her hair done in a bun.
"Mr. and Mrs. Ueda, it's a pleasure to see you again." the twins' mother bowed with her husband.
"It is a pleasure to see you again too, Miss. Jasmine," Nanako smiled back sweetly, speaking with a noticeable accent. "Kyou-kun, thanks again for throwing this banquet for us. You truly are an amazing son."
"You're very welcome, mother," the twins' father nodded, smiling back. "And I'll speak for everyone who helped prepare by saying they're glad to have thrown this as well."
"And we could not be any more grateful," Kaede spoke with a thicker accent than his wife. "Now... where are those girls? Your daughters?"
"They're in the kitchen getting everything set up and they also have a little something special prepared: a food fight." answered Jasmine.
"Ah, sou desu ka?
"What is the theme for the match?" asked Nanako.
"They will be competing to see who can make a better main dish. I'm sure it will be quite a treat for everyone." replied Kyou.
"Oh, it has to be. There must be a lot on the line here."
"Indeed, whoever loses will be disowned for a month," chuckled the mother with the rest of the group. "...no, really."
Speaking of the twins, they were both in the kitchen having their dishes prepared by the chefs. With the appetizers about ready to be served, the sisters thought now would be a good time to start the Dining Duel. Both of them were very demanding of the cooks, smacking and shouting at them to make their dishes were perfect. That's what being part of a strict culinary family meant to them, not taking failure for an answer.
"Appetizers are almost done! Just a few more seconds!" roared Honey, taking one more lap around her section of the kitchen.
"This isn't the time to make mistakes, pull it together, everyone!" commanded Maple, following suit.
"Girls," one of the servers returned to the kitchen. "They have just finished the appetizers. Shall we begin serving your dishes?"
"Yeah, serve 'em! Now, go!" barked the ponytailed twin.
While the guests already ate the appetizers, they awaited the main dish and they were surprised to see the twins' parents coming up to the stage with Kyou holding a microphone.
"May I have everyone's attention, please?" the twins' father commanded as the guests stopped their chattering. "Thank you all for attending my parents' 50th-anniversary banquet. Would you please give them a warm welcome?"
A round of applause sounded for the sister's grandparents, who nodded in response, sitting at the table off to the side of the stage. It was now the mother's turn to say her piece.
"And to really celebrate their beautiful marriage, we have arranged a Dining Duel to be judged by all of you," Jasmine began as the guests clamored a bit before she continued. "That's right. It is between our daughters, Maple and Honey. Because they were responsible for creating the banquet's main dish, they will be squaring off to see whose dish is better. Girls, can you come to the stage, please?
At that, the twins strolled the stage but not without a little elbow nudging between. They stood before the guests in their chef attire, drinking in the applause from the guests.
"The Dining Duel between Maple and Honey will now begin! Who would like to serve their main dish first?" asked Kyou.
"I would prefer it if Honey went first." Maple smirked a bit, earning a glare from her sister.
"Very well, servers, if you will!"
The servers presented the guests with seasoned pieces of lobster over a small bed of linguini, drenched in a creamy butter sauce with herbs.
"My dish is a lobster scampi. Considering that grandma and grandpa are huge fans of seafood, I wanted to make this just for them. Now all of you can enjoy it in its buttery garlic goodness." bragged Honey as she folded her arms, watching the guests take a liking to the food. Nothing that made her happier than to hear praise towards her cooking; whether it came from her family for not, she relished in it.
"Umai! ...zettai umai!" complimented Kaede after trying the pasta.
"It really is delicious, it reminds me of the pasta dishes my mother made when I was younger. How nostalgic..." Nanako smiled contently.
"Has everyone finished eating?" Kyou called, stepping back on stage after he tried the dish with his wife. "Good, now Maple can present her dish. Dear?"
"Gladly, father. Servers!"
The redhead commanded with a raised arm to have the servers hand everyone a plate of lamb chops, plated beautifully over a small pile of a mashed light orange substance. The fact that her sister had the meal decorated with sesame seeds and a fresh herb on top made Honey shrink a little; no surprise she would be outclassed by her skill in presentation.
"My main dish is Chinese lamb chops with a carrot and sweet potato mash. I also knew that grandmother and grandfather had a fondness for seafood, I just didn't feel the need to take advantage of that for a cheap win. Unlike some people..." Maple shared a brief intense stare with her sister. "I thought this would do just as nicely. Please enjoy."
Showing a similar reaction to Honey's dish, the guests clamored as they enjoyed the meal, but they were more vocal with their compliments. Why, a few of them were close to breaking down in tears over how delectable it tasted, even Nanako seemed like she was about to cry. And things didn't seem to be looking up for Honey.
"This is... this is probably the greatest meal that our grandchild has ever prepared... oh, I'm even tearing up over it. Hazukashii..."
"In da yo, Nana-chan. I have no words to describe how good this is, it really tastes like a winner." nodded Kaede, patting his wife on the back.
"This is RIDICULOUS!" a peeved Honey thought to herself. "She always does this! Every time! Every single time, she's one step ahead! And it never fails! Just when I thought I was gonna win, this is so stupid!"
"Thanks to everyone for your participation. Girls, take your places in the kitchen while we settle this." Jasmine said as the twins headed to the kitchen.
With their mother going through the judging process, the twins were left to relax and think about how they did in the cook-off. Neither of them spoke a word since they arrived, and they didn't bother to share eye contact either. Honey had to compose herself to make sure she wouldn't clobber her twin before the verdict. Was she really about to suffer another humiliating defeat? Again? Retrieving a bottled water from the fridge, Maple took a few sips before turning back to her twin, leaning against the wall.
"You can stop scowling now, the hard part's out of the way." the elder twin finally said.
"Tch, that's easy for you to say," scoffed Honey. "You ready to gloat like you always do?"
"Well, look who's being a sore loser already. It's that attitude that won't get you far in life."
"You know what, save the last-minute taunts! I get it! I'll never be good enough to beat you and I'll never be good enough for my family! You don't have to keep rubbing it in!" roared the younger twin.
"Oh, is that what this is about? Your petty grudge towards me?" argued Maple.
"You're the one who's being petty about it! You always have to turn everything into a competition! Newsflash, Mape, you're not the goody-two-shoes daughter that everyone thinks you are!"
"And once again, you're being delusional. Not only are you the petty one, but you're also the competitive one. Need I remind you that YOU challenged me. At least everyone who thinks I'm a 'goody-two-shoes' agrees that you're an unpleasant, childish brat."
"Ugh... you are so lucky we have this banquet going on. Otherwise, I'd-"
"Girls, can you step back to the stage please?" Jasmine hollered from outside.
"...you're spared for now." grumbled Honey, receiving a chuckle from her sister.
The two sisters made their way back to the ballroom and stood on stage with their parents. Now would be the time to determine the winner of the Dining Duel. Would it be Maple with her delicious lamb chops or would Honey take it with her lobster scampi?
"The results are in and the victory has been served. This Dining Duel's winner is... Honey!"
And just like that, the bitter scowl she sported morphed into a look of complete shock. Honey appeared in awe of how she won a seemingly futile match against her sister. The prissy teen looked surprised to see her family congratulating her with the guests and felt obligated to bellow out her yodeling laugh.
"Ah, omedetou! ...heh heh, I honestly forget what her name was, to be honest." chuckled Nanako.
"Now it will be hard to forget her after tasting her dish. Will you make that for me some time, Nana-chan?" smirked Kaede.
"That was an amazing match, wasn't it? Now, we will resume with the rest of the meal." Kyou spoke.
Heading to the hallway outside of the ballroom, Honey wasted no time in gloating over her victory and Maple didn't seem to mind in the slightest. She couldn't help but feel glad for her and her arduous work.
"Hah hah hah, yes! About time I destroy you in a food fight! Who's the sore loser now?!" the ponytail-sporting twin bragged, poking her finger at her sister's chest.
"Yes, you really earned that victory, dear sister. I'm honestly proud of you." the bun-wearing twin replied with a sincere smile.
"Admit it, you knew I was gonna win, didn't you? Didn't you?"
"I sure did."
And that's when a glare made its way back to Honey's face. Why did her sister seem so lax after losing?
"Okay, something's not right here. Who are you and what have you done with my lame sister?"
"What are you talking about, Honey?" asked Maple.
"You with the 'you won fair and square' ploy. It's not like you at all. Usually, you'd bite my head off." retorted Honey.
"Not as much as you do, but really, I'm not mad at all."
"Then, you must've done something. There's no way I won a match that you were supposed to win and you're not complaining afterwards. So what is it?"
"...fine, if you're that curious," the elder twin stretched her arms and shut her eyes for a moment. "I may have bribed the guests to vote for you."
"You what?!" shrieked the younger twin, widening her light teal eyes.
"Must be surprising to hear from the supposed 'goody-two-shoes'. I thought handing you the win wouldn't result in you throwing a tantrum during the banquet. Plus, beating you constantly does get tedious after a while."
"...you little witch! Do you think I can't beat you on my own?! I would crush you-"
"And technically, you did. Now, smile and be grateful. ...you know, Honey, there's a secret to defeating me."
"And what is it?" grumbled Honey.
"I won't tell you until you defeat me." Maple grinned.
"But I just did! Now, spill it!"
"No, I mean by actually defeating. You didn't defeat me, I just didn't feel like winning. There's a difference."
At this, Honey stood frozen with her mouth agape, still trying to digest the new information from her sister. But yet again, Maple appeared clueless to her exasperation.
"Well, I suppose we should help the chefs in the meantime. Come, little sister," the bun-wearing twin went back to the ballroom, leaving behind her paralyzed sister. Only to return minutes later to snap a photo of her priceless expression from her phone. "Sage will be thrilled to see this."
Appears the heated rivalry between the twins had barely begun...
Hazukashii: How embarrassing
In da yo: It's okay
Shizuka ni shite: Be quiet, silence
Sou desu ka: Is that right?
Zettai: Definitely, without a doubt