Nickel confirms that gifted pastry chef Sharlena Fong has departed the Downtown diner, with little idea where she’s going. In 2008, Fong left Thomas Keller’s Per Se to move to L.A. and do her part to turn a drug-addled block of Skid Row into a destination for comfort dining. Along the way, she helped make maple bacon donuts a city-wide smash while adding an arsenal of inventive deserts to the diner’s stable of sandwiches and plates. A likely replacement will be Nickel’s own Koa Duncan, formerly a pastry chef at Bastide and Water Grill and winner of an Angeleno Award in 2005. Koa, who last cooked in San Francisco’s Boulettes Larder and more recently Delfina, has been with Nickel after moving back to L.A. in October. While the restaurant confirms that Duncan is there, stay tuned for details on Fong’s reemergence.