Membership site is a great idea.. I hear about it a lot at the Mixergy Interview. So many signle founders who are bootstarpped started with Membership.,.. I have listened to atleast a dozen of them..
Now the fun part --
Most of them who started with wordpress were not happy. It is a good way to test the idea..But the moment you gain traction you will have to get on to a membership SaaS or tweak wordpess a lot to make it one..
Even if you decide to go with wordpress version check if you have the following features. Wishlist is a wordpress plugin I am aware of..http://member.wishlistproducts.com/ (disclaimer - i have never done but heard a dozen founder speak)
Membership Levels - Create “Silver”, “Gold”, “Platinum etc
Integrates With Your WordPress Site or blog
Flexible Membership - Trial , Paid etc
Member Management - like registration, activate, upgrade
Payment gateway integration
There are non wordpress too ... One of them is http://www.subhub.com/features/ ..
If you already have a email list, influencers, would-be moderators etc, I would say start with a niche tool rather than tweaking wordpress.
Hey if are looking for any idea storming related to growth, content stratgey, marketing ..feel free to chat.. Don't worry about the phone fee.. I can send you a free call pass ..happy to talk 30 mins.
Also, do take a look what other membership sites for recipes are doing , the pain points etc..