STAR chefs with 15 Michelin stars will be heading for the East Lancashire area early next year.

Eighteen world-class culinary geniuses have been pencilled in for Northcote's 19th outing for their Obsession gastronomic festival.

One of the main attractions will be Norbert Niederkofler, a three-star Michelin legend, who will fly in from northern Italy to prepare a five-course menu at the Langho.

His St Hubertus restaurant, at the Hotel Rosa Alpina, in San Cassiano, earned its first star, as he championed food sourced solely from the Dolomites.

He followed this up with a second in 2007, before the third star was awarded last year.

Homegrown talent James Lowe, named in the world's top 50 and the inspiration at Lyle's, on London's Shoreditch High Street, has been earmarked for January 25.

The gathering will be fittingly book-ended by Nigel Haworth, who came up with the original concept with managing director Craig Bancroft, and Northcote's own Lisa Goodwin-Allen, who cemented their Michelin star, in her own right, for the first time this year.

A Northcote spokesman said: "Obsession is Northcote’s annual homage to the finest food and wine, established since 2001 as one of Europe's premier gastronomic events with guest chefs travelling in from all over the world.

"Each chef takes over the Northcote kitchen for the night and challenges themselves to produce a unique menu for the evening's guests in a food festival that is a showcase for great chefs, a celebration of great food and wine, and a meeting of friends."

Goodwin-Allen will also be featuring in a 'Girls' Night, on January 31, with Marianne Lumb, the MasterChef finalist who made her name with her own Notting Hill eaterie, and Romy Gill, who runs Bristol's Romy Kitchen.

Other leading lights, from as far afield as San Francisco, Rome, Mallorca, London, Canada, Portugal, Denmark, including Srijith Gopinathan, Marc Fosh and Ian Scaramuzza, will join them from January 18 to February 3.

Mr Bancroft will be selecting the wines for the various courses on offer.

The menus are not for the faint-hearted though - five courses with Norbert Niederkofler will set you back £140.