Heidi Van Pelt: What happened to Taran Noah Smith’s ex

In the realm of Hollywood, where scandals and transformations are commonplace, few stories are as captivating as that of Heidi Van Pelt. Best known for her controversial marriage to child star Taran Noah Smith, Van Pelt’s life trajectory has been anything but ordinary. From her tumultuous personal life to her remarkable professional achievements, her story is one of resilience, passion, and reinvention.

Who is Heidi Van Pelt?

Born on July 11, 1968, in Missouri, United States, Heidi Van Pelt is now a celebrated vegan chef and certified nutritionist at the age of 57. Her journey to this point, however, was paved with challenges that began in her earliest years.

Early Life and Education: A Foundation Built on Adversity

Van Pelt’s childhood was marked by instability. Her parents’ divorce when she was just one year old meant growing up in separate homes, a situation that often leads to emotional turmoil and a sense of displacement. Despite these difficulties, she remained committed to her education, attending Blue Print High School and later Oak Park High School in Missouri.

Her academic journey reflects her diverse interests and evolving aspirations:

  1. Stephens College: Initially pursued fashion design
  2. University of Missouri: Switched to philosophy and German
  3. University of Washington: Aimed for Russian studies with the goal of becoming a CIA agent

This educational path showcases Van Pelt’s intellectual curiosity and adaptability, traits that would serve her well in her future endeavors.

Professional Evolution: From Film Industry to Vegan Cuisine

Van Pelt’s career has been a fascinating evolution:

  1. 1990s: Founded Emergent Films
  2. Los Angeles: Worked as a production assistant and prop master in the film industry
  3. Mid-2000s: Transitioned to become a certified vegan chef and nutritionist
YearCareer Move
1990sFounded Emergent Films
Early 2000sFilm industry roles in LA
Mid-2000sBecame vegan chef and nutritionist
Late 2000sCo-hosted “Raw Health” radio show
2010sFounded PlayFood vegan company

Her shift to veganism was more than a dietary change—it was a life-altering decision. Trained at the American Academy of Nutrition, she obtained a certificate as a nutrition counselor. This expertise, combined with her passion for promoting healthy and sustainable eating, led her to co-host the radio show “Raw Health,” establishing her as a prominent figure in Los Angeles’s vegan community.

“My journey into veganism wasn’t just about food; it was about aligning my lifestyle with my values of health, compassion, and sustainability.” – Heidi Van Pelt

Business Venture: PlayFood’s Rise in the Vegan Market

Van Pelt’s entrepreneurial spirit shone through with the founding of PlayFood, a company specializing in vegan and organic foods. Her innovative non-dairy cheese alternatives gained significant traction, positioning PlayFood as a notable player in Southern California’s health food scene.

  • Product: Non-dairy cheese alternatives
  • Market: Local markets and retail stores in Southern California
  • Impact: Contributed to the growth of plant-based food options

Although PlayFood ceased operations in 2019, its impact on the vegan food industry was substantial. Today, Van Pelt continues to share her culinary expertise through her website and social media, inspiring many to embrace plant-based living.

Heidi Van Pelt’s Relationship with Taran Noah Smith

Heidi Van Pelt's Relationship with Taran Noah Smith

Van Pelt’s personal life, particularly her relationship with Taran Noah Smith, has been a subject of intense media scrutiny and public debate.

The Beginning: An Unconventional Meeting

Their story began in 1999 at a party hosted by a former “Home Improvement” cast member. At the time, the age difference was stark:

  • Taran Noah Smith: 14 years old
  • Heidi Van Pelt: In her thirties

While details of their initial encounters remain private, it’s known that they didn’t start dating formally until 2000, when Smith was 15.

Marriage: A Union That Raised Eyebrows

On April 27, 2001, Van Pelt and Smith took a step that shocked many: they got married. The circumstances were unconventional:

  • Smith’s age: 17 years old
  • Van Pelt’s age: 33 years old
  • Age difference: 16 years
  • Wedding venue: A strip club in Topeka

The significant age gap and Smith’s minor status at the time of their wedding sparked widespread controversy. Many questioned the appropriateness of the relationship, reflecting societal norms and legal concerns about age of consent.

Professional Partnership: PlayFood

During their marriage, the couple’s bond extended into the professional realm. Together, they established PlayFood, leveraging Van Pelt’s passion for vegan cuisine. This venture showed a shared commitment to promoting healthy, sustainable eating habits.

The End of a Chapter: Divorce and Its Aftermath

However, their union was not to last. In 2007, after approximately six years of marriage, Van Pelt and Smith divorced. The reasons cited were multifaceted:

  • Financial differences
  • Allegations of infidelity on both sides

A significant outcome of the divorce was Van Pelt gaining full custody of PlayFood. This business acquisition substantially boosted her financial standing and professional reputation in the vegan food industry.

What is Heidi Van Pelt’s Net Worth?

Determining a public figure’s net worth can be complex, as it involves various factors and often relies on estimates. In Van Pelt’s case, different sources provide a range:

  • Lower estimate: $200,000
  • Higher estimate: $300,000

Factors Influencing Net Worth

  1. Business Income: PlayFood’s success in the vegan market
  2. Investments: Personal financial decisions
  3. Expenses: Cost of living, business operations
  4. Asset Value Changes: Property, stocks, etc.

The divorce settlement, which granted Van Pelt full ownership of PlayFood, likely had a significant impact on her financial status. As the sole proprietor of a successful vegan food company, she would have benefited from its profits and any increase in its market value.

“In entrepreneurship, especially in niche markets like vegan food, net worth isn’t just about current earnings. It’s about the potential for growth as more people adopt these lifestyles.” – Financial Expert

Case Study: PlayFood’s Market Impact

PlayFood’s journey offers insights into Van Pelt’s financial growth:

  1. Product: Innovative non-dairy cheese alternatives
  2. Market: High demand in health-conscious Southern California
  3. Distribution: Local markets to larger retail stores
  4. Industry Trend: Rising popularity of plant-based diets

As vegan diets gained traction, particularly among celebrities and in health-focused regions like Los Angeles, PlayFood was well-positioned. This market alignment suggests that Van Pelt’s net worth could have seen significant growth during PlayFood’s operational years.

Heidi and Taran at the Farewell Party for the Final Episode of Home Improvement

On April 9, 1999, the entertainment world gathered at Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California, to bid farewell to “Home Improvement.” This iconic sitcom had been a staple of American television, making household names of its cast, including young Taran Noah Smith.

A Night of Celebration and Reflection

The event was more than a party; it was a symbolic closure for a show that had defined a generation of family television. For Smith, who had grown up on set playing Mark Taylor, it marked the end of a formative chapter.

  • Date: April 9, 1999
  • Location: Walt Disney Studios, Burbank, CA
  • Occasion: Final episode wrap party

Van Pelt’s Presence: A Personal and Public Statement

Interestingly, among the attendees were Taran Noah Smith and Heidi Van Pelt. Their appearance together at such a high-profile event was significant, especially given the media’s growing interest in their relationship.

  • Smith’s Role: Mark Taylor, the youngest son
  • Van Pelt’s Status: Smith’s partner, despite the age difference

Their joint presence seemed to be a bold statement, perhaps a way of normalizing their relationship in the public eye. It also provided a rare glimpse into their personal life amidst the glitz of Hollywood.

“End-of-series parties are emotional milestones. They’re not just about the show; they’re about the personal journeys that happened alongside it.” – TV Industry Insider

The Event’s Emotional Weight

For Smith and Van Pelt, this party held layers of meaning:

  1. Professional: Celebrating Smith’s eight-year run on a hit show
  2. Personal: Sharing a milestone event as a couple
  3. Public: Facing the spotlight together amidst controversy

In many ways, this farewell party encapsulated the complex intersection of their lives—Smith transitioning from child stardom, Van Pelt entering his world, and both navigating the challenges that came with their unconventional relationship.

Heidi Van Pelt Today

After years in the media spotlight, often for controversial reasons, Heidi Van Pelt has crafted a life that reflects her passions and values.

Professional Focus: Vegan Cuisine and Nutrition

Post-divorce from Smith in 2007, Van Pelt dove deeper into her true calling:

  1. Became a certified vegan chef
  2. Obtained nutritionist certification
  3. Hosted “Raw Health” radio program

Her work on “Raw Health” amplified her voice in Los Angeles’s thriving vegan community. By sharing knowledge about plant-based diets, she helped demystify veganism for a broader audience.

Personal Life: New Beginnings

Van Pelt’s personal life also took positive turns:

  • Remarried to Jerimiah Rozzo-Belle
  • Welcomed son Vox into the world

This new chapter seems to offer the stability and joy that eluded her in earlier years. Her family life with Jerimiah and Vox presents a stark contrast to the tumult that once surrounded her.

Business Ventures: Ups and Downs

Van Pelt’s entrepreneurial spirit persisted:

  1. PlayFood: Continued success post-divorce
  2. Fud Restaurant: A new vegan eatery
    • Unfortunately closed due to disputes

Despite setbacks like Fud’s closure, her impact on LA’s vegan scene remains substantial. Many credit her for making plant-based options more appealing and accessible.

“In the restaurant business, especially with niche cuisines, challenges are part of the journey. What matters is the lasting influence on people’s eating habits.” – Culinary Expert

Legacy in the Vegan Community

Today, at 57, Van Pelt is more than a former tabloid figure; she’s a respected elder in Los Angeles’s vegan circles. Her journey—from controversial relationships to culinary acclaim—offers a narrative of personal growth and professional reinvention.

  • Online Presence: Shares recipes and tips via website and social media
  • Mentorship: Guides newcomers in vegan cooking
  • Advocacy: Continues promoting sustainable, compassionate eating


Heidi Van Pelt’s life reads like a Hollywood script—complete with controversy, career shifts, and redemptive acts. From her challenging childhood to her highly publicized relationship with Taran Noah Smith, she’s faced intense scrutiny. Yet, it’s her work in vegan cuisine that now defines her.

In the end, Van Pelt hasn’t just survived her tumultuous past; she’s thrived by aligning her career with her deepest values. Her journey from tabloid headlines to culinary respect shows that, with perseverance, anyone can rewrite their narrative.

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