Heidi Van Pelt is an American vegan chef and businesswoman who got famous when she got married to the popular nineties child actor, Noah Taran Smith.
Taran famously played Mark Taylor in the television sitcom, Home Improvement which aired from 1991 through 1999. Getting married to Taran definitely brought more fame to Heidi than her cooking career did and soon she became the subject of countless discussions in the media because of it. One of these discussions bordered on their age difference.
Sadly, the couple eventually parted ways, and following that, she became the object of more gossip because of the nature of their divorce. These issues and more made Heidi Van Pelt more notorious than famous. She faded from the limelight almost immediately after her split from Taran. And although she lives a private life now, curiosity has gotten the best of us and here we are with some interesting facts about her.
Who is Heidi Van Pelt?
Heidi Van Pelt was born on July 11, 1968, in Missouri, United States, to lower-class parents. She is the only child of her parents and as result, she grew up alone and mostly isolated. When she was only a year old, her parents got divorced and she ended up being raised single-handedly by her lone mother, Marsha Duncan.
You could say that Heidi had a pretty tough childhood. Her mother, Marsha, had to work several jobs, including as a city clerk, all to be able to take care of her child, and so Heidi did not receive much affection as a kid. She went to the elementary school in her local neighborhood and subsequently continued her education at BluePrint High School, which she attended for a few years before moving on to Oak Park High School from where she later graduated. Likewise, Heidi attended several colleges before she eventually obtained a degree. First, she enrolled at Stephens College in Columbia because she wanted to study Design and Fashion but she never finished the degree program for unknown reasons.
She transferred to the University of Missouri where she tried to study German and Philosophy but that ended just like the first. Heidi transferred yet again to another school, this time to the University of Washington in 1988. This was because she was not satisfied with studying German and instead wanted to get into the CIA. She opted to study Russian at the University of Washington but dropped out a semester before her graduation.
Heidi Van Pelt Tried Her Hands at Many Things and Failed Before She Became a Vegan Chef
Heidi Van Pelt did not have a particular career trajectory and this was obvious to everyone who knew her. Immediately after quitting the CIA program, she founded a media company that she called Emergent Films. She left this company and moved away from Washington to Los Angeles to start over. While in Los Angeles, she tried to make ends meet by doing countless odd jobs, including working as a movie production assistant and prop master.
Eventually, she decided to look into vegetarianism and decided to learn how to prepare vegetarian meals. This led her to go back to school once more, and she took online classes at the American Academy of Nutrition and got certified as a Nutritional Counselor. After that, Heidi secured a job as a Nutritionist at a clinic in Los Angeles. She also took up volunteering with an animal right activists organization as a result of her vegan inclinations.
After trying and failing in multiple businesses and career ventures, Heidi Van Pelt finally saw an unexpected opening as a vegan chef. She got lucky and landed a job as the co-anchor of the Midwestern radio program called ‘Raw Health’. This program blew up because vegan cooking was beginning to get popular among Americans. Consequently, she became popular among the Los Angeles vegan crowd and gained access to the créme de la créme of the Southern Californian city.
The Chef Met Her Future Husband Through a Friend
During her time on Raw Health, Heidi Van Pelt met an animal rights activist who introduced her to many famous celebrities who were animal lovers as well. It was in the course of one such meet-up that she met Taran Noah Smith and his friend, Zachary Ty Bryan. This happened around the year 1999 and Heidi happened to be in a relationship at the time. They, however, remained friends.
Before we get into all that, let’s talk a bit about Taran Noah Smith. Taran is an American former actor best known for his portrayal of the character, Mark Taylor, on the sitcom, Home Improvement. Smith started his acting career when he was just seven years old. Born in San Francisco, California to parents Candy Bennici (mother) and David Smith (father), he grew up alongside his older sister, Ariandrea Hilary Smith who is now a famous model.
Not to be outdone by anyone, Taran began taking acting classes and eventually landed the role on the popular sitcom in 1991, which was his only major television role. For his part on the show, Taran won an Academy Award for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actor Under Ten in 1992 and then the Young Artist Award for Outstanding Youth Ensemble in a Television Series in 1994.
When Taran and Heidi met, he was still on the show and was still in the public eye. They met again in 2000 and both took a liking to each other immediately after they talked about their personal problems. It seemed that there was a strong connection between the two of them and before long it had progressed to a full-blown relationship. Heidi soon moved in with Taran and his family and stayed with them for two months.
All the while, Taran had lied to them about her age. Taran’s parents eventually found out about Heidi’s real age after she was issued a speeding ticket and they promptly kicked her out. This caused quite a ruckus in the family as Taran left with her. They left Los Angeles and moved to Lawrence where they hurriedly got married secretly. The shotgun wedding took place in a strip club in Topeka on April 27, 2001.
At that time, Heidi was 33 years old while Taran was yet to be considered an adult legally. As a result, the news of their marriage caused a terrible outrage in the media with reporters opting to pay as much as $25,000 for the wedding footage. After the interest in their union began to die down a bit, they both moved back to Los Angeles and set up their cooking business together.
By this time, the Home Improvement show had ended and Taran had already made up his mind to quit acting. They mainly cooked vegan meals together, recycled local items, and even contributed to local charities, and upcoming artists. They ran an organic restaurant business for a while called Playfood before they split up. Their marriage was blessed with an only son whom they named Nolan Eric Smith.
What is the Age Difference Between Heidi Van Pelt and Taran Noah Smith?
A recurring issue that most of the public seemed to have with Taran and Heidi’s marriage was the massive age difference between the both of them. Heidi is exactly 16 years older than Taran Noah. At the time of their marriage, it was even more scandalous considering that Noah was just 17 years old, and still a minor. It seemed like a disaster waiting to happen, especially for Taran who seemed to have more to lose.
The controversial couple received a lot of pushback from the actor’s parents, who for one were not in support of the relationship, let alone the marriage. Soon, Taran’s family attorney was trying to get the marriage annulled, but it was futile. Speculations were that Heidi Van Pelt was a golddigger who was after Taran’s $1.5 million trust fund.
Surprisingly, neither Taran nor Heidi was deterred by the vicious gossip swirling around their relationship and they seemed quite happy and content with each other until the marriage met its demise a few years down the line.
Why Did Heidi Van Pelt and Taran Noah Smith Get Divorced?
As much as these two tried to brave the odds against their union, it all came to an end soon – rather inevitably as some would say. The negative controversy about their marriage left a lot of people predicting that the union was doomed right from the start. Sadly, they were right. Taran and Heidi got divorced in February 2007, after only 6 years of marriage, and nearly eight years of knowing each other.
It was said that money and cheating allegations were the cause and both parties blamed each other for the split. On one hand, Heidi complained that Taran drank and partied too much, and cheated on her severally and the fact that he was once convicted for driving under the influence gave credence to her accusations. Taran, on the other hand, revealed that Heidi was stealing their restaurant business profits and putting them into her private businesses.
He also accused her of sleeping with girls and getting angry when he decided to do some stepping out of his own. According to him, during one such altercation, Heidi threw a tantrum and broke all the dishes in the house.
With time, they stopped sleeping in the same bed and then took to working in separate cities just to avoid each other. When they eventually filed for divorce, they battled over child custody and ownership of the business. Heidi was awarded both and walked off much richer than she walked in.
Where Is Heidi Van Pelt Now?
According to a report by a Kansas City news outlet known as The Pitch, after Heidi’s marriage to Taran went south in 2005, she moved back to Kansas City, Missouri, where she was raised. A few years later, she got married to a lanky man named Jerimiah Rozzo-Belle, with whom she had a child named Vox.
Together, Heidi and her second husband opened a vegan restaurant known as Fud, located inside Bad Seed, the Crossroads farmers market in Kansas City. The restaurant began operations as a stand-alone eatery on the Westside in 2010. Unfortunately, seven years later, it was reported that the eatery had been closed. Without the consent of her partner, Rozzo, who owns 49% of Füd, Heidi decided to cease the operation of their business because she believed that their employees were scheming against her.
Speaking to David Hudnall of The Pitch in 2017, Rozzo revealed that he and Heidi were trying to sort out the legal details of how to break off their partnership in the restaurant. According to him, it was “a very traumatic end to a long, dysfunctional business relationship.”
Although the restaurant was closed, Heidi said it was only temporary as the business would reopen soon. But up till now, there has not been any news of that happening neither has there been any news about Heidi. Unfortunately, she never opened any known social media accounts where we can keep up with her, except for Facebook, where she is not even active. Her few posts on the social platform talk about raising awareness for female victims of child abuse and advocacy for mental health issues.
On the other hand, Taran Smith is the Technical Manager for a community project called the Submersibles Project and there, he teaches people how to pilot submarines. A couple of years ago (in 2014), he volunteered with the community in the Philippines, offering to help out with disaster relief materials.