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ROCKY POINT, New York -- Since she was just 14 years old, Long Island's Madison Bender has worked in the restaurant industry.

A mere four years later, the now 18-year-old holds the impressive title of sous-chef - the second in command to the top chef - at the Maui Chop House in Rocky Point.

"I never thought I was going to get here because I waitressed, I bussed, I hosted," Bender said.

"I never saw myself ... getting the responsibility being like a sous-chef in the back of a kitchen."

As she learned from her various restaurant jobs, she attended Eastern Suffolk BOCES Edward J. Milliken Technical Center and studied culinary arts.

"I found my passion for cooking at a really young age," Bender said. "My teachers really inspired me."

In June 2020, she graduated and started to work her way to the top of the kitchen.

John Louis, the head chef and owner of the Maui Chop House, found Bender when she came in for an interview. She was recommended by his restaurant manager, who was one of her teachers at Rocky Point High School.

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"I have two young daughters, so I'm a big proponent of empowering young females and just young professionals in general," Louis said. "Working with her watching her grow, watching her mature, and watching her hit it out of the park, it's great. It's going very well."

Bender also juggles the responsibilities of being a full-time student at Suffolk County Community College, where she is studying education. Bender hopes to follow in her boss' footsteps and own her very own restaurant one day.

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"I just encourage all owners and chefs to really open their minds and listen to the younger generation," Louis said. "They have great ideas, they have great energy, and you find the right one and you can hit a home run."


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Suspect At Large After Attempted Abduction Of 10-Year-Old At Long Island Bus Stop, Police Say

A man in a van is on the run after allegedly attempting to abduct a 10-year-old boy who was standing at his bus stop on Long Island, police said.

Nassau County Police detectives said that a 10-year-old boy was walking from his home to his bus stop at the corner of South Middle Neck Road and Melbourne Street in Russell Gardens, a village in Great Neck, shortly before 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, March 4 when he was approached by suspects in a van.

According to police, while standing at the bus stop, a grayish-white utility van stopped in front of him and an unknown man exited the passenger side door.

It is alleged that the suspect walked toward the boy and told him to get in the van while gesturing toward the vehicle, at which point the boy left the scene, ran back to his home, and told his family, who alerted police.

The suspect fled in an unknown direction.

Police said that the suspect has been described as a light-skinned man who was between 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-7 with an average build and dark hair. At the time of the attempted abduction, he was wearing a short black winter jacket.

Anyone with information regarding the suspect or attempted abduction has been asked to contact Nassau County Crime Stoppers by calling 911 or 1-800-244-TIPS. 

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