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Back in May 2012, the home of "The King of Cheeses" was in serious peril.

Two earthquakes hit the Emilia-Romagna region in Italy with devastating force, leveling homes, destroying historical buildings, and threatening the lifeblood of their world-renowned cheese industry: Parmigiano-Reggiano.

The humidity-controlled warehouses where stacks and stacks of this beloved cheese are aged and stored were hit — hard. All in all, 360,000 pristine wheels of Parmigiano-Reggiano were damaged, amounting to just over $200 million.

The Consortium of Parmigiano-Reggiano, the official group in charge of safeguarding the cheese's quality (yes, this cheese is so special it has its own governing body), was scrambling for a solution.

They needed help. And they needed it now.

Chef Massimo Bottura was just the man who could turn it all around.

Chef Bottura is a native of Modena in the Emilia-Romagna region. It's here that he cooks at Osteria Francescana, voted 2016's best restaurant in the world. (So, yeah, he knows Parmigiano-Reggiano well.) And he knew that if he didn't act quickly, the cheese would be beyond saving. That's when he went to the drawing board (or in Chef Bottura's case, the chopping board).

"We're gonna make a dinner in which, all over the world, everyone can cook that recipe," he said in the hit Netflix documentary "Chef's Table." "I want to show everyone what happened to Modena and help them sell everything they produce."

Chef Bottura created his spin on the classic cacio e pepe (pasta with cheese and pepper) to create his own risotto cacio e pepe. Instead of the usual pecorino, he used parmigiano. And instead of pasta, he used rice — another product greatly affected by the earthquake.

Chef Bottura debuted his risotto cacio e pepe during Parmigiano-Reggiano Night, a fundraiser where people gathered online to eat his delicious dish at the same time.

The date was set for Oct. 27, 2012. And in the weeks leading up to it, the recipe was shared all over social media so anyone could partake in the online feast.

Needless to say, it was a hit. Everyone who tasted it loved it. And before Chef Bottura knew it, the recipe had made its way to culinary hotspots all over the world, from New York to Tokyo.

"All 360,000 wheels were sold," Chef Bottura added on "Chef's Table." "They were sold out. No one lost a job. No cheese maker closed the doors. That was a recipe as a social gesture."

Now, every Oct. 27, Parmigiano-Reggiano Night is celebrated in honor of the people who came together to help save a local cheese industry. But instead of just one dish served online, restaurants all over Italy cook their own parmigiano creations and offer it on their menus.

Parmigiano-Reggiano is more than just another ingredient. It's ingrained in Italian culture.

Image via Kelly Hau/Flickr.

That's what makes Chef Bottura's dish so incredible. Not only did he save his fellow Italians from catastrophe, but he did it by showcasing who they are on a plate — simple, elegant, and packed full of flavor.

In a way, it also highlights the warm heart that Italians are known for. No wonder Chef Bottura continues to pay it forward in his own special way.

When we're faced with challenges that seem insurmountable, finding a solution can be overwhelming. But when you stick to who you are and do it from the heart, amazing (and delicious) things can happen.