Closing night of the Atlanta Jewish Film Festival drew 1,400 people in search of a gastronomical education and expedition to the Woodruff Arts Center in Midtown on Tuesday, Feb. 16, for the Atlanta premiere of the documentary “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.”

David Lewis, who introduced and moderated post-film discussions for several movies during the festival, says he is heading for the baba ghanoush after “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.”

David Lewis, who introduced and moderated post-film discussions for several movies during the festival, says he is heading for the baba ghanoush after “In Search of Israeli Cuisine.”

Celebrity chef and restaurateur Michael Solomonov, who appeared at the Book Festival of the Marcus Jewish Community Center in November in conjunction with his cookbook “Zahav,” took us through 97 minutes of mouthwatering dishes with a map and jaunts through the small country while delving into the question “What really is Israeli cuisine?”

Ripe tomatoes, charred eggplant, lamb, grilled fish, organic farms, wine and cheeses had their turns on screen. It was a true learning experience and a political exposé as Arab cooks weighed in on our cross-cultural food connection.

In the best line from the movie, Solomonov said, “I’m allergic to alcohol” when he eschewed a fine kosher wine toast. He added, “When I drink, handcuffs and police cars break out.”

After the movie, we were treated to a light combination buffet from Café Sababa, Hal’s Kitchen and Cooking With Margot — all done with good intentions. But after the three pre-film speeches and trailers for the next day’s encores, I was ready to eat my leather purse by the time the movie presentation ended after 9 p.m.

People who arrived early got a small sample bag of CaJa Popcorn to sustain them. Little did we know we should stock up.

In their fervor for food, many in the audience stampeded out before the panel discussion while the credits rolled. The movie, as good as it was, almost taunted empty stomachs. Next time, maybe it would be wise to serve the hummus, olives and apricots before the film and the rest of the food afterward.

Still, it was a special night and a fun finish to the world’s largest Jewish film festival.

Photos by Marcia Caller Jaffe