April 2, 2024

Van der Moolen in magazine Twentse Familiebedrijven

Pure passion for noodles and pasta

The best authentic Chinese noodles come from the east. Logical, you will undoubtedly think. But you didn’t immediately think of Enschede, but for the Randstadt you often thought of the Far East. A special story that starts with one of the first Chinese restaurants in the Netherlands, Hong Kong aan de Klomp in Enschede.

Piet van der Moolen’s mother and Chinese stepfather were able to take over a hotel-restaurant in Enschede, which they soon turned into a Chinese restaurant. Piet had a technical education and was asked by his parents to come and help with some problems with the heating. Together with his wife Henny – they are now 91 and 88 years old – they packed their bags and before he knew it he was walking in the restaurant as a waiter.

How to make your own traditional noodles

“My grandfather was a creditable cook and was annoyed by the poor quality of the noodles. Of course, availability was also difficult at the time. If my father – with his technical background – couldn’t just make a machine with which he could make his own noodles. But in China, mie is traditionally rolled and where do you get such a machine from here?”, says Peter van der Moolen (59), now the third generation at the helm of this special family business. The first years together with his sister Loes, who had been working there since the late seventies. She died in 2016, two months before the fiftieth anniversary of the family business, which they took over together in 2000. Peter continues to talk about his father’s search: “But in the end, after searches all over Europe and nights of searching in libraries – there were no e-mail and Google yet – he managed to find an old bakery machine somewhere far away in Germany and adjust it in such a way that he could use it to fulfill my Chinese grandfather’s wishes. It was the beginning of our family business as it stands today.” Via the old parish house of the Jacobuskerk in the center of Enschede to a location on the Josinkstraat, where the company has now grown out of its premises almost sixty years and many renovations later.

From almost sixty years of Josinkstraat to new construction at De Ossenboer

“It’s safe to say that we’re going to make a splash,” says Peter. “At the beginning of next year, we will move to a new location of five thousand square meters at De Ossenboer in Enschede. We’re really ready for that.” Because from the first moment his father mastered the process, he also managed to sell the product to many other Chinese restaurants and since then the company has only grown. “Within a few years, we had more than half of the Chinese restaurants in the Netherlands as customers. To this day, there is no company in the Netherlands – and I don’t think even in the whole of Europe – that can produce traditional rolling mill.” In addition to the company’s own rolling mill, four thousand tonnes of exclusively and traditionally produced pasta products have also been purchased from Italy for more than thirty years.

The Mie Factory from Enschede

The noodles of Van der Moolen Foodgroup, as the company is now called, were once available under the name Tai Ming, which means ‘the best noodles’. Nowadays it is known under the brand name ‘De Mie Fabriek uit Enschede’ – with a nod to the Far East – and more and more product types have been added. Peter: “At the moment, we mainly supply restaurants through wholesalers. And there are fewer and fewer of them. Many Chinese restaurants even use Italian pasta as a noodles. Also in the supermarket; you know the ‘Mie Nestjes’, don’t you? Well, there’s nothing Asian about that. So you just eat tagliolini with soy sauce,” he says with a laugh. Van der Moolen Foodgroup’s noodles can be found dried and cooked in various food segments, such as the meal and snack industry, and will soon also be steamed from the new location. “Just like fresh pasta in the refrigerator compartment. No one can do that,” Peter says proudly. “Our ambition is to become the European authority on noodles and pasta.” One of Peter’s three children is daughter Genet (25). After graduating from law school, she has been working within the organization since last year. So it looks like this family business will also have a bright future. And that father and mother will soon be able to proudly cut the ribbon of the new Mie Factory is Peter’s great wish.

Source: Twente Family Businesses